Finishing the Hat

I’m close to finishing the book. I think so. No, really, I am. Maybe. It looks good. I don’t know. I think I can, I think I can. Somebody shoot me. Or get me some uppers.
I had an anxiety dream a few nights ago. I was onstage in the final moments of a big musical (that was being played in a gym/auditorium filled with my friends from all over the country including Joe Biden and the senator from Massachusetts, which one remains unspecified.)  I had to sing the last song, an anthem, a cross between “Staying Alive” by Sondheim and “I Am What I Am” from La Cage aux Folles. Oh, and I am playing a gay man in my pajamas singing about the lost/dead love of my life.
Here’s the anxiety part: I know the song pretty well but not all the words 
Curtain up and somehow there is a record player (old school) playing the song I am supposed to sing. I am sitting on the bed, my head in my hands, and slowly I join the recording, faking/remembering the lyrics.  I get through the whole song but I have no idea if I got away with it, which is to say if I’d managed to put one over on the audience. I can’t recall if there was any applause.
This is my life as a writer.
Whenever I speak in public there are inevitably questions about the “process.” I usually say something about walking the dog and drinking coffee and now that I’m of a certain age, I may add something about taking a hit of Advil. I say the process is like watching paint dry. I really don’t know what to say. It would be too pretentious to say, “It’s a mystery.” (Favorite line from “Shakespeare in Love,” when all seems lost and the play must go on.)  When asked if I “channel” my characters I say, “Not really. It’s work.” I try to sound cheerful but inside I’m seething. “Channeling? Are you kidding me?”
I think I can.


  1. Rabbi Lucy Dinner on March 17, 2014 at 7:05 am

    Anita, you can “put one over” on me any day of the week, any week of the year. Your writing flows like honey from the the rock.Thank you for putting up with the agony of yhe process.

  2. Rabbi Lucy Dinner on March 17, 2014 at 7:09 am

    Anita, you can “put one over” on me any day of the week, any week of the year. Your writing flows like honey from the rock. Thank you for putting up with the agony of the process to produce your art.

  3. Mom and Dad on March 19, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    Anita, love your work. Still looking for another Red Tent. Please consider doing another Old Testament novel dealing with women of the Bible. Young people need this to make scripture relevant.
    Hang in there…you are in the hard part of finishing. I am an architect. I don;t write but, I can relate.

  4. Cathy Schechter on March 20, 2014 at 9:40 am

    Man oh man alive, do I feel your pain! After 30 years of writing non-fiction, I’m writing my first novel. Third draft, three different voices, a million puzzle pieces laying all over the floor in disarray. The words may flow, but they don’t always work or make sense. Process?

    My book is in the same genre as The Red Tent, and you are a role model. No comfort for you, but for me to know I am not alone in feeling insecure and a little crazy makes me feel that at least I’m in good company.

    I’m sure it’s great, hang in there! (she said with a sigh).

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