I had the chance to talk about 2 of my favorite subjects in the New York Times: pizza and my love for New York City.
“I would take a New York City slice, served piping hot out of the oven onto a generic white paper plate as I walk around the city, over any other slice anywhere in the world. It’s not just the pizza, it’s the spirit of the city embedded in it that makes all the difference. We all have our preferences. And for me, New York is the place for pizza, and for life.”
Check out the full piece at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/16/nyregion/new-york-today-chicago-pizza-vs-the-new-york-slice.html?_r=0.
“Write what should not be forgotten…” ~Isabel Allende
I’m in the midst of writing some difficult passages in Emerson’s second book. There are characters in the book that have been through terrible times. They’re reliving those times, explaining them to Emerson because it will make a difference to her journey. And I hope it will make a difference to readers, and the journeys of readers. I hope their resilience, determination, and love for life inspires us all to be the best people we can be. I hope it makes us kind, grateful, and resolved to build a better world for ourselves and for each other. Life is tough; together we are tougher.
Over the weekend, I caught up with Erik and Will as a guest on their fantastic podcast, Lit to Lens. We talked about agents, my journey as an author, and publishing by book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, with a small press. Check it out!
“We do not remember days. We remember moments.” ~Cesare Pavese
I passed by this sign on the street about a month ago, and it’s message hit me so hard my eyes teared up. I was especially struck by this line: “In true New York fashion, friendships were created here that crossed all barriers, and allowed strangers to become family. Like its namesake in Paris, our Barbès became a melting pot, one that celebrates all that is good in New York City and all that is good in America.”
A month later, I’m still think about this message to take a moment to have a moment that we will treasure long after the moment has passed. This is a note of thanks from the owners and staff of Barbès Restaurant in midtown that’s closing because the building is being knocked down. This happens a lot in New York. We tear things down. We build new things. People arrive. People leave. The constant turnover of places and people is a way of life here.
But something about this particular note hit me hard. The sentiment, gratitude, and deep sadness of the situation was so authentic in this simple sign taped to the window. And despite the sorrow at the end of its life, there was joy and gratitude. I looked in, and saw many people of all different ages, colors, and faiths enjoying a meal there. They were having a moment, made all the more poignant by the fact that this place would no longer exist in a very short time. It would live only in their memories. And I think that’s the very best we can to do with our time—to create memories that will outlast us by welcoming people into our lives.
Thank you to Women’s National Book Association – NYC Chapter for making me their Members Write Now feature this month. Read an excerpt of my book at http://wnba-nyc.org/members-write-now-christa-avampato/.
Nevertheless, she persisted, and won. I was buoyed by the elections on Tuesday and snapped this photo of my book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, outside of Trump Hotel in celebration. Emerson’s story is a hopeful one, a story I wrote when I most needed to feel hopeful about our future. Tuesday’s elections renewed my faith in a committed group of citizens who care about their neighbors and making the world a better place. While we may find ourselves in dark times now, I will never stop looking for and creating light. I will persist. I hope you will, too.
Emerson’s second book begins in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, the night before her 14th birthday. On Wednesday, I walked a few blocks from my office on my lunch break and took a spin around the exact area where I imagine her to be. Like my own internal augmented reality, I could see her, the other characters, and the action of the scene unfolding in my mind, superimposed on the real-world setting where I stood. It was like having an out-of-body experience.
There is something powerful about writing in place, standing in the place where your imagination runs wild and getting it all down as best you can. I wrote the first draft of this opening scene in my apartment, 50 blocks north of Times Square. When I edit it, refine it, fill it with the juicy detail and vivid imagery that bring Emerson and her journey to life, I’m going to be there, in Times Square. You’ll find me on the top step of the red staircase in Duffy Square, just above the TKTS booth. I’ll be pounding away on my laptop in the cold night air because I want you to feel what Emerson feels. I want the sense of urgency and alarm she experiences on that night to be what you feel when you read those words. I’m blessed to live in the city where my stories are set, and that’s a privilege I’ll use to its full advantage.
I’ve decided to register for the lottery to get into the 2018 NYC Marathon. Anyone want to join me on this adventure? In 2001 I ran the Chicago marathon a month after 9/11. It was one of the most life-affirming experiences I’ve ever had. 16 years later, I need to have that feeling again about our country and our world. I’ll try that path, and if it doesn’t work out then I’ll see what other avenues I might take into the race. Either way, it’s time to get moving, to feel hopeful about our future despite the ugliness of the world right now. And I figured the moving starts with me, right where I am, in this city that I love with these people who are my neighbors and friends.
“The world is full of people who say it can’t be done. If everyone listened to them, we’d still live in caves—and there would be no such thing as books.” ~Dean Koontz #NaNoPepTalk
I’d like to talk to you about naysayers. Some are valuable. When I was deciding to go to grad school and expressed my desire to work part-time and go to school part-time, a friend of mine told me exactly why that was a terrible idea. (He had gone part-time and deeply regretted it.) He was right. It was a far better idea for me to go to grad school full-time. After I got my MBA and a good job, and decided I want to work on my writing on the side, that same friend said I was wasting my time and that I should really focus on important things like climbing the corporate ladder and finding a husband. (He never climbed the corporate ladder, he’s not a writer, and his spouse is less than a good match.) That time he was wrong.
To find out if naysayers are worth listening to, I consider the feedback as if a friend was telling me my own story. That objectivity helps me sort the BS from the gold. Also, consider the perspective of the naysayer. Are they offering you advice from experience, or are they just stating their opinion as fact? I’m glad my friend gave me solid, informed reasons to go to grad school full-time. It’s one of the best decisions I ever made. I’m glad I ignored his opinion about my writing and how to spend my time. If I had listened to him, I wouldn’t have the writing career I have today.
Ultimately, the one who lives with the consequences of your choices is you. What matters most is your opinion of your own life.
West Side Rag is one of my favorite neighborhood publications on the Upper West Side. I’m so excited that they reviewed my book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters. My thanks to writer and reviewer Nancy Novick. Check out the review on West Side Rag.