On the Road: Getting a Life in New York

I flew into New York, if not kicking and screaming, at least whining and pouting because I wasn’t at home working on AKMG, getting stuff done. Then I hauled my weary butt off the plane, got a cab, said, “West Village,” leaned my head back on the seat and thought, as I have thought so many time befores, “I have to get a life.”

I’m not sure why that’s a litany for so many writers. It may be because making up lives for our characters that are fascinating and filled with adventure leaves our own looking so pale and ordinary, or it may be that spending all our time making up those lives fills in the spaces where we should be talking to people and forming meaningful relationships, or we may all just be big whiners, “drama queens” as my daughter has pointed out: we write drama because we’re drawn to it so we create it in our own lives without even thinking about it.

For whatever reason, I was in the taxi thinking the “get a life” whine when I noticed Manhattan flashing by through the supports on the bridge and thought, “Wait a minute, I have a life. And it’s pretty damn good.” And then it got even better when a friend of mine, Katherine Ramsland, came into the city to stay with me. (This is Katherine, coming into the city:


Katherine is, well, amazing. Her vita is stunning: she has a BA in philosophy and psychology, a master’s degree in forensic psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a Ph.D. in philosophy from Rutgers University and a master’s in clinical psychology from Duquesne University. She’s an expert on serial killers, modern vampires, Anne Rice, mass murderers, Dean Koontz, forensic science, writing . . . you know what?, just google her and then look on Amazon, and while you’re at it, search the CNN crime section (formerly Court TV) for some of her articles. She’s a college professor, she’s a journalist, she’s a writer, she’s blonde, she’s beautiful, she’s the only person I’ve ever known who stole a haunted ring from a vampire in real life, and she’s a helluva good time in general. In short, Katherine never thinks, “I have to get a life.”

So we’re talking over Chinese dumplings at the apartment, catching up on gossip and mutual friends (Hi, Bob) and I finally said, “I know you’re a vampire expert, but I’m working on this new book and . . . do you know anything about ghosts?” Katherine said, “Is that a joke?” because it turns out the vampires and the serial killers were pretty much johnny-come-latelies in Katherine’s life: Her first love is ghosts. So she’s a good time and a research bonanza. I bounced all my ideas off her and while everything she told me was gold, what really struck me was how she could combine her knowledge of ghosts and ghost hunting with her knowledge of writing fiction, so that while we talked about what Emme would and would not see, she could tie it to character arc, how Emme’s sensitivity to paranormal phenomena would grow stronger as her sensitivity to the other people in the house grew stronger. Basically, Katherine was a writer’s dream source, and she didn’t even object when I quizzed her for most of the night.

And then the next morning we went off to our separate meetings, and I did think for a moment, “That was supposed to be a night off,” but we laughed a lot and talked about all kinds of things for hours before we got to the ghosts and we both really enjoyed the hell out of the ghost conversation, so I’m beginning to think that maybe “getting a life” doesn’t have as much to do with not making my entire life about writing as much as opening it up so that my writing intersects with the outside world more often. I mean, Katherine never stops working and she has a fabulous life. I even had one moment when I thought, “I should be more like Katherine,” and then reality returned because I am not the kind of person who would ever steal a haunted ring from a vampire. I can live with that. And with the life I’ve got which, since it has people like Katherine in it, is damn good.

Whine over.

18 thoughts on “On the Road: Getting a Life in New York

  1. I’m glad you’re feeling a lot better! And thanks for the new post, it was getting lonely. But could you elaborate on the theft from the undead?? It’s too tantalizing to know just the half of it…

  2. Katherine sounds truly amazing. What a gift to have her in your life as a friend *and* information centre! But you know that there’s a yin and yang and you probably give her as much energy and inspiration as you feel you get from her. Besides, you’re letting her talk about her passion, when you don’t have a night off, and how many people get to do that all the time. 🙂 Have a great time enjoying that life of yours in NY!

  3. Don’t you just love conversations with people who have lots of intellectual depth and energy? And who aren’t holding their knowledge or expertise over your head but instead just giving it away because they find you stimulating and they like the back and forth? Lucky you, having her, and lucky her, having you. (Even though she’s obviously a bigtime overachiever. Yikes!)

  4. What is a life if not doing something you really enjoy that allows you to dip your toes into such a variety of ponds? And why do people think that a life has to be filled with activity every moment in order to be valid? Jenny, you make a living doing something that not everyone has the aptitude for, a living that brings you into contact with fascinating people, and that ultimately gives much enjoyment to people you’ve never met. Sounds like a pretty good life to me.

  5. Can’t wait to hear you speak at NINC. Is Katherine coming? I have to hear the rest of the “stole ring from modern-day vampire” story. Hmm. Ok, why am I focused on thinking, “Holy wow. She stole a ring from a vampire!” and not on, “Holy wow. There are modern-day vampires???”

  6. Because you’re a writer, and vampires are easy to believe. Stealing a haunted ring from a vampire in real life, harder to believe.

    Katherine won’t be there, but the fabulous Jennifer Enderline will.

  7. Jenny,
    I’ve never been to New York, Australia, New Zealand, Ohio, or most of the United States. I’ve been up and down the West Coast, and up into Canada. Been to Florida, Hawaii and Germany. Your boring little life has taken you to so many places and allowed you to see so many things and meet so many people. And you get to work in pajamas sans bra. Our own lives are never as exciting as everyone elses. sigh.

  8. I’ll trade lives with you for a while – you’ll appreciate yours more when the time is up, I’m sure 🙂

    When I’ve spent a lot of time “plugged in” to the computer doing email / blogs / writing I often have the same sorts of thoughts. And then I get out and talk to some people or just switch tasks for a bit and I feel better. Because as addicted as I am to the internet and my email, it feels really good to get out of my own head once in a while and either do something with my hands or spend some time with other people.

    Have a great time in NY!

  9. Do you think we could be channeling each other? Heh. We’re both writing ghost stories. It’s possible. Anyway I left a message on D&G last evening to congratulate Anne on her Rita final and I ended it with saying something like “I swear sometime soon I’ll get a life.”

    Now if I had YOUR life I’d be happy. You’re probably in a funk ’cause you’re just getting back to health after a bad cold and a long winter and then on top of that you had to travel. Me, I’m just questioning my life ’cause it’s so damn boring. Have a great time in NYC.

    Enjoyed reading about Katherine. I’ll bet she has many wonderful stories to tell. Oh, and pssst, don’t tell Bob but I messed up his blog, by accident of course. But still …

  10. I’m one of those who thinks “Getting stuff done” is overrated. I believe it’s the journey, but finally arriving at the destination is good too. And besides it’s what pays the bills, right?

    Blogging at us the way you do allows us to peek over your shoulder while you traverse the path. Bouncing stuff off of us is fun for us, sometimes we’re the folks along the way who wave and shout “Hey, how about this…”

    And yes, sometimes we’re the puddle of mud you have to step over…

    I love the life I lead. I love my job (well, one of them at least) but it’s also fun to follow someone else around and see what theirs is like. I can’t recall the number of times I have said “Thank goodness I’m not ___fill in the blank___” or “There but for the grace of God go I…” Because the times have been many.

    It’s always good to step back and take stock of what you do have.

    Now I have to go and get rid of that mental picture of Bob in the little black dress that LtL implanted.

  11. Of course, Jenny, you have a life. An interesting life that you care to share with your readers. It is very important to chum around with others as it helps your muse. You were inspired by being with your friend, Katherine, who has a variety of studies and interests; including the topic you needed information on: ghosts.

  12. I still want to hear the details about how she got the ring, where is the ring, does it haunt her, how did she get the ring from the vampire, etc………


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