Monday, February 7, 2011
The Last Great American Housewife by Staci Greason
Out on a Limb
One of the things I like the best about writing is digging deep to the roots of a story to uncover the strange, extraordinary and true in the life of the ordinary. To grow a book this way requires patience, diligence and the willingness to go on a journey.
When I started writing The Last Great American Housewife it wasn’t about a housewife on the verge of forty whose mother dies. It was a story about the end of the world, a group of young eco-terrorists, and one lone redwood. The first draft of the book was around four hundred pages. I gave it to my mentor, the wonderful and generous writer, Jim Krusoe. “The only character I like is the housewife,” he said. “That’s the story. Try leaving out the whole end of the world thing, too.” And so Kate, the housewife, claimed her spot as the hero. She stalked elderly women in grocery stores, skated around an affair with a college student and eventually climbed a tree by the mall to save it from destruction. The eco-terrorists were softened into college environmentalists, playing minor roles in Kate's story.
Over the course of the next six years through various day jobs, boyfriends loved and lost, moves to Colorado and back to California, I continued to peck away. At times I cried and closed the laptop only to return (of course) because what else is there to do but continue? I researched trees, drove around the San Fernando Valley and tended to Kate’s story.
When it was over, I felt depleted, happy and satisfied with the work. The next part (I mistakenly thought) was up to my agent. For a year she tried to sell the book. Finally one day she sent an email, “You’ve written the perfect book that no one wants.” She suggested that I publish an electronic version to get a little attention. Suggesting self-publishing to a novelist is like asking a gourmet chef to open a hot dog stand in his front yard. I fired her immediately. Writer friends warned, “Don’t do it,” while artist friends asked, “Why not? Musicians make their own cds. Filmmakers make their own films.”
Over the course of the next few months, I took a good hard look at myself. Was my goal to be published by New York or to share my story? I had to let go of my attachment and ego and need to be validated as a writer. That’s when I realized - Kate’s journey is about bravery.
To create anything of lasting value artists must possess a pioneering spirit. It isn’t about what anyone else says. I wasn’t ready to give up on the book. I had to do the one thing I didn’t want to – climb out on a limb.
Recently my novel The Last Great American Housewife was released as an e-book on Amazon. It’s getting good reviews, but more importantly readers are really enjoying the book. I hope Kate’s inner transformation from grief into real happiness encourages people to tend to the strange, extraordinary and true within their own ordinary lives.
Here are a few links to find out more info on Staci and her book:
Thanks for joining us today!