February 03, 2010

Update and News! Sex After Sixty will be a book!

Dear Readers,

I have news and you to thank for it! Sex After Sixty has been discovered by the e-book publisher 3ones. Kelly Abbott, 3ones CEO, says (honestly, I hope I’m not dreaming and as all of you know, I am prone to dreaming while awake.):

“Mary has written a memoir of the highest quality. Her experiences and the way she brings them to us remind us why we bother to read in the first place: empathy is better than callousness, trust more rewarding than cynicism, adventure food for the soul. We are proud to publish Mary’s book and can only hope to find other adventurous, trusting and empathetic souls to bring into the 3ones family.”

I am still editing the memoir that I am living but "Lost and Found" is the end of the book. That won’t stop me from blogging: I am so attached to you who have been on this difficult journey of discovery with me. It is you, dear readers, who made the book happen. It is you, dear readers, whom I hold in my heart.

I will write a formal acknowledgment page and do that soon, but for now, I want you to know that this blog—soon-to-be-book! Thank you, Kelly Abbott—would never have happened if, oddly enough, D. had not left me and sent me on my journey.

Sex After Sixty would never have happened if Sarah Hammerschlag, my daughter, the philosopher and professor at Williams College, whose book The Figural Jew will be published by University of Chicago Press in May 2010 (hurray! And it is brilliant.) and her husband, the philosopher and professor at University of Chicago, Ryan Coyne, had not suggested that I write about my journey while I lived it. They said, “Blog,” while I wept, and I did. They wrote the first line of the blog: The title! I am in their debt forevermore for this, but more, indeed, for their incomparable love.

I thank my son Ben Hammerschlag, who is the owner and CEO of Epicurean Wines (Here’s one rec: if you haven’t tried his personally designed wine Woop Woop, do so—a fabulous bottle of fine red wine for an unbelievably low price) and who spent many hours on the phone with me—as did my daughter and son-in-law—when the separation from D. happened, and who, as I write about in “Oz” in these pages, flew me to Australia where he owns a vineyard so that I could rest and recover and think about the state of my life. He is an incomparable man. I am blessed to know him.

From my heart, this thank you to my children, Sarah, Ben and Ryan comes.

A special thank you to my grandson Jericho. Jericho at age 15 gave me advice that I will talk about more at a later time. Jericho is wise beyond his years. He is the son of Chris who held my hand when his father left me—what an unbelievable man Chris is. His wife Jessica and her daughter Madisson have stood by me, have been steadfast and true. And, believe it or not, the whole clan in Iowa stood by me, with a special salute here to Retha and Macel, who wrote me when the going was so rough and I didn’t ever think I would recover.

I could never have written this memoir if I’d not gone to University of Missouri-Columbia as a visiting writer where I met the incredible writer and deeply empathic soul Marly Swick. Marly has been in my corner from the get-go. I made a friend for life and that alone is worth everything.

Sarah Krouse, whom I once taught fiction writing to at George Washington University, taught me everything I know about blogging. She is a brilliant mind, a soulful friend. She ought to be a literary agent—her advice has been invaluable, her friendship, a gift.

Jessica DeSoria Dalton, OpenSpaceDesign.com, designed my website, got the blog up and running for me, taught me how to post, but more important, how to live fully. We are now friends for life. Jessica and her husband Mark Dalton have been cheerleaders for my writing—I have leaned on their belief.

Zaara of kittenchops.com illustrated both my website and the blog and she did both with her heart after reading both my book The Woman Who Never Cooked and early writings of this memoir—she illustrated from understanding who I am and what I write. OpenSpaceDesign and Kittenchops.com are folks you need to know.

Amy Souza, whom I once taught—never underestimate what your students will teach you—asked me to participate in her project Spark while I was living and discovering this memoir by blogging. I did and told her and the painters, writers and photographers this: “I’m a softy recovering from a broken heart. Long story. But let’s just say that Amy’s project offers me some hope for fixin’ that heart through the work.” Thank you, Amy.

To Cynthia Stevens and Martha Dupêcher: Much more ought to be said. For now, know that the journey of discovery continues. Cynthia Stevens, you were my first teacher on this path and together we walked. Martha Dupêcher, you have walked with me in the intimacy and safety of your wisdom and your heart.

What I’ve learned while writing this has come from the discovery that taking the risk of writing gifts—and I use that word gifts literally. As Elizabeth Bishop so wisely advises,

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

But, dear readers, your comments, and keep them coming please, have informed these pages more than you know. I have read your comments and you have become part and parcel of this book. You have commented. I have rethought, been encouraged, forged ahead like a little boat on the sea of your belief.

Did I just say “book”? I did, and I can’t believe it, but it’s true.

My self-imposed deadline for delivery of the manuscript Sex After Sixty to Kelly Abbott and 3ones is Valentine’s Day. The e-book will be out soon after that in the spring.

This message comes from my heart to yours,

Mary