To mangle a quote from Albert Camus, In the heart of winter, I found there was within me…More winter. What I want to be carrying around is that “invincible summer,” but it just seems that this January is the longest one on record. Will it ever end? Never mind the gloomy national political situation, for which there seems little immediate remedy; or the depressingly cold and rainy grey weather we’ve been having in the Northeast—I would almost prefer the purity and brightness of a thick cover of snow, and I know my plants would, too. I have this bothersome autoimmune disorder which decided to send up flares of protest, just after the first of the year, in the form of headaches, nausea, deadly fatigue and general malaise. But the endocrinologist can’t see me till the end of February, and ONLY after I get my insurance situation straightened out. Oh yes, we almost lost our health insurance this month, gaining it back only after paying a king’s ransom in new premiums. So this is the kind of month that tests the old faith, and unfortunately we need one of those once and a while: Or else we’d never know what true joy is.
My students and my writing keep me going: my students, with their cheerful determination to learn and endless curiosity about American life; and my current writing project, which blessedly takes me out of myself and puts me into someone else’s narrative for a while. That is going well, but I’ve started sending out book proposals, and am dreading the inevitable rejections that will come from that. I didn’t think I could find a literary agent to support such a small project, so I’m approaching publishers on my own (yes, you can still do that with non-fiction books and small publishers), so I can get those snippy rejections full-force. But I feel bolstered by a comment on my ‘Art of Biography’ post—I had mentioned the biography of Robert Lax, Pure Act, by Michael McGregor and who should comment but Mr. McGregor himself, so check it out. He included a very helpful link on the art of writing a literary biography, which also addresses difficulties posed by writing about Christianity, specifically Catholicism. Great stuff, and a huge help to me.
As for my dear Wives, there is wan hope to report on that front. I hate to say it, but I am really impressed with this Amazon keyword advertising scheme, and I’m actually ahead of the game, having spent $1.09 but gaining two sales and some KENP page-reads. The magic word so far seems to be “marriage;” that word was directly linked to the sales. But here’s the brilliant thing: If you use a famous or best-selling author as a keyword, you end up appearing (briefly) on their Amazon page! I keyed in ‘Elena Ferrante’ and boom! there was my little book being promoted, right under her bestselling blockbuster. It’s probably gone now, but still…wow. I’ve since been adding new authors each day. But only the good ones.
So winter drags on, but January can’t last forever. Maybe in February I’ll find that invincible summer…