Archive for June, 2009

A Writer’s Life

I think most readers of this blog know that among other things, I write novels.  They started out, 30 years ago, as a way for me to explore Russian culture and to combine my own (sketchy) Russian heritage with something very dear to my heart at the time:  federal law enforcement, which I had just left three years earlier when my daughter was born.

Well, the characters in that first book have taken on an entire life of their own since I became Orthodox — 18 years ago, now — and I found that just writing about their little Cold-War romance wasn’t enough.  Now they’re married, they have kids, they’ve become enmeshed in international intrigue — it turns out that my hero’s father was spying for the CIA.  And his wife knew about it.  And never told him.  And he’s in internal-affairs, that organ of any police agency charged with investigating police officers accused of crimes.  (When this whole thing started, my own career with internal affairs had just ended, so there was no way my hero was going to be involved in any other aspect of law enforcement!)

So:  You’re in the KGB, your wife is an American, the only reason she is allowed to be your wife is that you’ve been charged with uncovering her secret mission to Russia, and you learn that your own father’s been knifing you in the back for years — and your wife, whom you have come to love profoundly, knew about it.  And never told you.  How are you going to react??

I don’t know.

So, although this particular scenario takes place between 1985 and 1988, long before the internet became one of life’s minor essentials, my heroine has begun keeping a blog.  In Russian.  About what her life is like, with a hostile husband, his distraught mother, and their four children, in a foreign country, where she is under investigation as a spy (which she isn’t).  My hope is that through her blog, I can get inside her husband’s head, and be able to write convincingly about his reactions to all of this.

(Oh, side benefit:  maybe I’ll finally learn how to type on a Russian keyboard.  It’s slow going, so far.)

Sheesh, the things we do for our characters…

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There’s this thing out there that I only became aware of this year, called Eastern Christian New Media Awards (that is “new,” not “news” — I checked), wherein people nominate their favorite blogs in such things as Funniest Blogs, Best Theology Blog, and Best Domestic Blog — all, of course, from the viewpoint of an Eastern Orthodox life.  A friend of mine posted about it, so I checked it out and voted for some of my favorite blogs — there were at least three that I would have liked to vote for in the Domestic category, but you could only vote for one.  Phooey.  However, I can and will mention that two of the Domestic blogs I would have liked to vote for, on one and the same ballot, are Mimi’s blog and Philippa’s blog.

With competition like these ladies, imagine my shock when I saw my own blog among them.  /jaw hanging open, eyes wide, drool f orming at the corner of my mouth/  OK, that last is a bit gross, but you get the idea.  Whoever nominated Muttonings, thank you!! Winning isn’t remotely on my radar scope, but I’d love to know how many votes I got.

And that’s all I have to say on the subject.  For someone who’s supposed to be a writer, this is not good.  But that’s how stunned I am.

(Oh, one final, purely domestic note:  I got the rest of my windows washed over Memorial Day weekend.  Thank God for my son, who took down all the curtains on the remaining windows and put them back up for me.  Washing the windows themselves wasn’t a problem because they’re all tilt-ins, but I wasn’t looking forward to the stepstool routine — and my son saved me from that.  God bless you, Chris!)

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