On the Road: Isle of Palms

So I’m sitting in a condo on the Isle of Palms, listening to the ocean roll outside the window which I usually find infinitely comforting but since this complex is about to fall into the ocean, I am finding it less so at the moment. It’s 5AM, but I’ve woken up and now I can’t get back to sleep so here we are. And I have internet access which is not always the case here. In fact, there’s a good chance I’ll lose it before I finish this post, so don’t look at the time to see if it’s really 5AM when I posted. And for those of you who are wondering where the HWSW post is, WordPress refuses to let me on the damn blog.

All of this might lead you to think that I’m a little cranky, but actually I’m very happy. I’ve had a wonderful time in South Carolina at the beach house and now here for the weekend, lots of good things happened, I met terrific people, and tomorrow I start the drive home and it will be beautiful. In fact, I’m chipper as all hell even though 5AM is not my preferred time to write. Of course, my brain thinks it’s 6AM since we fell back into Daylight Savings Time this weekend and by the way, that makes no sense at all since it put kids at bus stops in the dark. I say, adjust to the seasons, people. Leave the clocks alone.

Where was I? Right, the weekend.

So I taught a class and terrorized people each day and then met my critique group on the third floor and terrorized them each night, so my work is done. My critique group, by the way, was spectacular and, even better, very sturdy. Cathy, Mary Jo, Allison, Suzanne, Shane, and (by the weekend) Ann all took some pretty stringent criticism and not only rolled with it but worked like crazy to revise. It is such a pleasure to work with people who sort through what you’ve said, take what seems right and discard the rest, and then make their stories better. I’d head out to walk the beach and there would be Allison, sitting on the porch with the ocean in front of her, eyes glued to her notes, scribbling like crazy, or Shane hiding around a corner, poring over her pages. I’d think, “Oh, look, writers, not people who want to be published,” and then go walk on the beach which is how I screwed up my knees, I think, but it was worth it. The ocean, in case I haven’t mentioned it, is a beautiful thing.

Of course, one problem with working with writers is that their grasp on reality isn’t strong. On the day I wore my beach skirt–let me tell you how much I love that beach skirt–I walked along the edge of the water and, surf being what it is, sometimes it came up higher and washed over my feet and I kicked at it because that felt good. These were not high kicks. Little ankle kicks as I walked, the kind that would also kick leaves out of your path or your writing partner on the ankle. Small, perfectly normal kicks. Then I got back to the porch and two writers who shall be nameless–let’s call them Ann and Shane–were laughing and told me that I looked like a Tampax commercial walking out there along the ocean, kicking them there waves. Okay, what they actually said was that I looked like a commercial, and I said, “Tampax?” but still. Then Shane said, “The best part was when you twirled around.” I said, “I do not twirl,” and I would like to make it very clear here that there is no way in hell I would have twirled on the beach. Many of you have met me and can attest to the fact that by nature, I am not a twirler. But Shane, who looks like an angel but is actually a child of the devil, “No, I’m sure you twirled. And maybe leaped.” And Ann, who is also evil, said, “Oh, I loved it when you twirled.” Or something like that.

Now here’s the thing about going out in public: people tease you and then somebody overhears and thinks it’s the truth and things just go all to hell on the internet. So I said firmly and loudly, “I did not twirl” and went inside before they added a dog and a guy on a horse to the story. Writers. But of course, the twirling thing did not die. So a couple of days later we’re at dinner, and Ann says, “Boy, I wish I’d had my cellphone with me because we could have taken a video of you twirling.” And Shane looked at her and said, “Ann, we couldn’t have taken a video, we made that up.” And Ann stopped and said, “Oh. Yeah. We did.” See. THIS is how rumors start.

There was no twirling.

There was, however, much hilarity and good times and interesting things, although I missed the return of the three-hundred pound sea turtles to the ocean which Mary Alice Monroe told us about because she’s part of the sea turtle rescue people. I understand it was touching although it took the male turtle longer than the female turtle, not because he wouldn’t ask for directions which somebody said but because (according to Mary Alice) once sea turtles are born, they head straight for the ocean where there is food and sex, and the females come back on land to lay eggs but the males never do (as Bob said, “No point”) so the females know how to get back to the water but the males are clueless. But he finally made it, and everybody said it was very touching, but I was at breakfast with Bob plotting the next book because I racked up my knee and couldn’t have made it down the beach anyway. So everybody else got a male sea turtle heading for the ocean, and I got Bob heading for a sausage and egg on a bagel. Not that he wasn’t as delightful as always, but you know, he’s not a giant sea turtle.

Meg and Jen also arrived on Friday so it was like old home week, the gang back together, and they brought Kathy Seidel whom I hadn’t seen since she tried to kill me in DC after that Smithsonian thing, so that was fun, too. They all looked fabulous and I looked like I’d been rode hard and put away wet since my fashion sense, never strong, had pretty much eroded by then. I remember feeling really put upon when I had to start wearing shoes again since we were moving to the condo. As much as I love shoes, they really seemed like a frill at the beach house. I also stared balefully at my mascara before I put it on. Reality. Bummer.

But it was good to be away from the house for awhile: twenty-five women in a beach house for a week can give you estrogen overload, but three days in a condo with Bob pretty much cures that. I was in front of the house loading my car when he pulled into driveway, and I waved, and he got out and looked at my hair–I’ve let it go gray and cut it short–and said, “You look better.” I said, “Just for the record, ‘You look better’ is not a compliment.” He said, “It is in Bob World.” Maybe some day I’ll work up to “You look good,” but I’m not holding my breath.

And the weekend was great although since some of the people from the week before left and many new people came in, it did seem odd to have all those strangers in Our Beach House. Or as Shane put it, “Somebody moved my peanut butter.” That same person drank my Diet Coke, too. Yes, we both realized that the house was stocked for everybody and that technically the peanut butter and Diet Coke were not ours, but frankly, we’d been there a week, and then here came these Janie-Come-Latelys who moved in and disrupted the beach . . . well, we knew how the sea turtles felt. The female ones.

There’s a lot more but I can’t remember anything now because it’s 5:45 and I need to go back to sleep. Well, I remember Meg telling a story about somebody who pitched to her at a conference and said that she couldn’t explain the story because it was a secret, and Meg said, “Maybe you need a secret agent.” Oh, and there is no picture of the shawl because after it was finished, I gave it to Meg so she could keep warm and she looked fantastic in it, so I said, “Keep it,” except that I didn’t put the shells on it so it’s just a boring shawl that’s about four thousand yards long–I may have lost my grip on the length–but she didn’t seem to mind, although she’s probably somewhere now going, “Crusie, this shawl needs edited.”

But I do need to thank Kieran and Sharon who schlepped us out to the condo and carried all our stuff up in the middle of the night–I’d heard of Southern hospitality but I had no idea how far Southern girls will go to make you feel taken care of–and Laura who said over and over again, “I’m going out, can I get you anything?” and brought magazines for collage and fed me Aleve, and Nina who put the whole thing together, and the Low Country Romance Writers for being the Low Country Romance Writers, which is a very good thing. And if they ever do this again, you should go.

43 thoughts on “On the Road: Isle of Palms

  1. What a wonderful time – knees and all. Would love to go next year. You will have to blog about dates, times, location and give us a chance to join you. Can’t imagine anything more fun. Enjoy your drive home. Hope your brainstorming with Bob means the collaboration is on track and happening again. Loved Agnes, can’t wait for more. I can’t imagine that the comment about your hair was his only snarky comment. Share share.

  2. I’m sorry to hear we won’t get to see the shawl, but enjoyed hearing about the weekend.
    I think we should scrap DST altogether and just stick to standard time. It’s the time that works best when there is very little light — in the winter. Today, for the first time in weeks, I send number one daughter to the bus stop and the sun was actually breaking over the horizon.
    And now, we’re supposed to “spring ahead” even earlier next year. She’ll be walking in the dark for two months before the earth catches up.
    And don’t even get me started on how much energy we’re actually wasting by extending the DST. People are turning on their lights and leaving them on when they go to work now. I predict we’ll see a net loss in energy saving after this year.
    Keep it where it was, or drop it altogether. Down with DST!

  3. Glad you’re relaxing and having a good time. Everyone should twirl on the beach at least once … let that inner child out to play. It helps with writing.
    About the knees, it’s hard work walking or exercising on the beach. Sometimes strengthening the thigh muscles helps. I wreck mine when I garden and then do the icepacks, Aleve, and do stretches and gentle lunges using hand weights and gradually increasing repetitions and weights. I even wear a ginormous black ugly knee brace on my left knee, but only inside the house. (Don’t want to be lumped in with all the other old ladies walking around in baggy shorts and braces.) I know … vanity, it’ll kill ya’.

  4. The South Carolina beaches are all so beautiful. And clean. Hard to be cranky living on the water’s edge of oceanfront paradise.

    Is anyone else sad to see the last of the craft lessons at HWSW are over and done? It’s like having your favorite TV show cancelled. Thursdays and Sundays just won’t be the same.

  5. There should have been a twirl. Jenny, your life needs more twirling.

    Can we have Bob at the next Cherry Con? I want to know more about BobWorld.

    And today I got a voucher for ยฃ25 off any BMI flight in the next year because the inflight entertainment didn’t work on my (8-hour) delayed flight, so therefore any time for the con before Nov 2008 would be good.

  6. Wow, I’m pretty sure I saw video of you twirling up on YouTube.

    Come to the Keys. There’s a Turtle Hospital near where I live. They frequently release rehabilitated turtles. I can show you dolphins, too, where I work.

  7. I’ve often had the same thoughts about DST. When we really need it is when the kiddies are waiting at the bus stops not during everyone’s summer break.

    Twirling … you might say you don’t twirl but I know from experience that beach walks and foaming surf tickling your ankles can make a person behave contrary to their nature.

  8. After a week at the Beach House, soaking up wisdom and talking writing from breakfast until way past bedtime, it’s been tough to hang out in a house where the most significant statement is, “Aunt Mary Jo, I have a poopy diaper.” Tonight I get to go HOME and stun my husband with newfound knowledge of scenes and beats and the importance of having an antagonist who does more than eat a hot dog. Jenny, I’ll always remember your generosity as a teacher and your gracefulness as a twirler.

  9. Oh babe, it was the twirl that screwed up your knees. Just because it’s all in our heads doesn’t mean it didn’t really happen somewhere in the third paragraph of chap. 18.

    Hope your drive back doesn’t hork the knees even more. Maybe we can write in a jetpack and a pony to carry your bags somewhere around chap. 23?

  10. Jenny – that was a beautiful preemptive strike on the blog / twirling situation.

    Thank you so much for everything this past week. I’m sure I learned more than I’ll realize for quite some time – Of course, right now my brain is so fried my knowledge feels limited to “move the myth.”

    Anyone who gets an opportunity to hear Jenny teach – grab it and hold on.

    Hope the knee is healing!

  11. I loathe DST. So disruptive. And our Government, in its infinite wisdom, NOT, has extended ours by several weeks to start earlier and finish later. Bring back the good old days, I say.

    Jenny, I hope the knee heals up fast. So glad to hear that you had a good time at the beach, turtles or not. It sounds fabulous. Sorry to hear we won’t see the shawl but neat to know it went to an appreciative home. My family used to complain that I always gave away the cross stitch that I did years back, but hey, that way you get to appreciate it wherever you go, right?

    All the best on the Bob days!

  12. Wasn’t that a line from that movie about Carrie Fisher and her mother? “I did not twirl!!! My skirt just blew up.” Can’t remember the name of the movie. Think it had Meryl Streep or was it Shirley Maclaine? And now it occurs to me that you already know this and are being ironic.
    Sounds like a great time was had by all. Good friends, books and the ocean. Bliss.

  13. “I DID NOT TWIRL.”

    Is that anything like “I did not inhale” or “I did not have… with that woman”?

    Just wondering.

    I like twirling.

  14. Jenny, I have a cry baby knee too. Tell Bob to go get frozen baby lima beans. They mold to your knee and last longer than peas. It’s the best use of lima’s I’ve found. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Lori J, yes, I’m with you. Sundays and Thursday’s loom with nothing to look forward to. Nothing at all, since there’s only seven weeks left!! Ack! I’m sad. Very sad.

  15. I can see it now: Man on a white horse canters through the surf. Spots Jenny twirling and is captivated by her innocence and charm. Stops to take her hand and invite her to join him on his ride, but her gammy knee prevents her from making an elegant vault so he pulls her on board and canters off into the sunset with Jenny slung across the front of his saddle, head and feet hanging down and backside in the air.

  16. Screaming because her knee is bouncing, too. Also, once he slings me across his saddle and gets a look at the size of my butt, I’d be in the surf again.

    Also, i did not twirl, so he wouldn’t be captivated.

  17. I just realised that for all my life, I’d misunderstood the song and thought it was “Knights.”
    But we now have evidence that all this is really true (according to Wikipedia):
    “On October 31, 2007, the Hard Rock Park, a Myrtle Beach, South Carolina theme park announced that they are building a dark ride based on Nights in White Satin called Nights in White Satin – The Trip, which will use sights, sounds, smells and tactile techniques to immerse riders in the song.[1] The ride will include a new version of the song re-orchestrated by Justin Hayward.”
    Jenny must be the star.

  18. Okay, here’s the thing about Jenny: she might not twirl herself but she makes everyone ELSE twirl.

    We need more people like her!!!

    Thanks so much for coming, Jenny.

  19. Yes, yes thank you MCB – that was it. Shirley says it like I imagine Jenny saying it. “I did not twirl!!!” Almost, almost stamping her foot ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. I don’t stamp, either. I have been known to snarl. I’ll accept snarling.

    And Gaffney got the pony. She gets all the good stuff. Sigh.

  21. If you find yourself up here visiting Bob any time between now and Christmas, come visit me and I’ll make you your very own homemade pumpkin pie. That is the good stuff. It’ll almost make up for the pony.

  22. “He said, โ€œIt is in Bob World.โ€”

    Bob World? Isn’t that the name of the theme park you’re using in your next collaboration? Sounds scary to me:-)

    Oh, and hey, “I did not twirl”. And you don’t prologue or epilogue either. Or, come to think of it, drink. I’m sensing a pattern here. No wonder I twirl…

    Thank goodness you snarl or you wouldn’t be human.

  23. Well, the drink thing is because I don’t like the way it tastes. And also because I don’t have a head for it. I had two drinks in a hotel lobby bar once and then walked into the wall beside the elevator when the doors opened. Don’t think Bob has ever let me forget that one.

    Prologues and epilogues are crimes against literature, and I am law-abiding in the world of fiction. Usually.

    And Bob World is not a theme park. It’s an alternate reality. Where nobody wears ties.

  24. And here i thought i’m the only one who twirls along the beach. ๐Ÿ˜› Twirling, very freeing, much more than dancing like a nekkid, drunken smurfette. Now THAT i don’t do no matter what others say, uh-hmm..

  25. I’m positive I saw the twirl. The sequins on the skirt made you look like you belong on Dancing With the Stars. I’ve decided I may delay beginning my book (even though I have created a great collage!)in lieu of learning ballroom dancing! I want legs like Edyta.

  26. I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t wear them in Bob world either. I mean, he won’t even wear a tie ๐Ÿ˜‰

  27. Jenny – Last week was incredible. Thank you for making it the best workshop EVER. I learned so much and I miss all the writing talk now that I’m back to reality in Florida. Reality equals — my car died and I had to confiscate my husbands SUV. Life. I want to return to the beach and just write.

    The collage exercise was terrific. My critique group has added combing the magazine racks to our weekly meeting at the book store.

    Hmm, I don’t think I like BobWorld.

    Take care of your knee. I hope it’s better already.

  28. You should clarify that it’s “Self-Employed Writer World”. I was self-employed for quite a while and there were plenty of high-heel-and-pantyhose-occasions. Which I don’t mind so much as long as it’s not freezing. Then it’s definitely boots time. On the other hand, I wouldn’t like to be a man in mid-summer having to wear a coat and tie.

  29. Yeah, Jenny didn’t twirl–that’s why Ann couldn’t get a picture of it. Still, it seemed like a thing that should have happened.

    Thanks for an amazing week, Jenny–it felt like everything just slipped into place once you and the group helped me realize I was trying to fix the wrong end of the story. In the words of Little Red Riding Hood in “Into the Woods”: “Isn’t it nice to know a lot? And a little bit … not.”

    But mainly, it is. Thanks.

  30. Twirling, huh? Well, that explains my dream…I was staying at your “house,” although not at all like your house. I was fixing breakfast, I think, when you came into the room and tipped over – obviously dizzy from the twirling. Then you started telling me all the things you had to do but couldn’t because you were, like, lying on your side on the floor. So, being the helpful soul I am, I volunteered to take you to school to sign up for your classes. And if you were too dizzy to do that, I was going to find someone to do it for you. Yes, I was. Damn it, you’re a bestselling novelist. It’s the least they can do. /;+)

    And what did you dream about?

  31. Oh, and I’ve been meaning to say, I have put you in my Kinja several times, but your new posts never show up. Is there something extra I need to do, or do you have Kinja blocked or something?

  32. I have no idea what Kinja is, Zaza.

    Apologies to anybody who has e-mailed me and not gotten an answer. Just discovered that I left the mail on on my desktop computer so some of it has been downloading there. Well, it’s been one of those weeks. I’ll get to everything eventually. Probably.

  33. Kinja is a feed aggregator, I think it’s called. Ordinarily, I just go and “add” a blog by putting in the URL, but I’ve done yours several times, and the new posts never show up. I don’t think you have to do anything for it to work, but I wondered if maybe something was blocking aggregators that aren’t in your list. I should probably be addressing this to Mollie. Sorry.


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