Dear Sir or Madam, Will you read my book?
I wrote a book. A whole book—it’s got a beginning, a middle and an end. It starts with a woman named Ellen taking a walk in Bethesda, MD, after dark. She’s alone and she gets scared by three men who aren’t attacking her, but she thinks they could be. Ellen’s story was my dream one night. I woke up and wrote it down—that was maybe six or seven years ago. I wrote it down and then I wrote the story of what happened after the dream, what happened to Ellen. It felt good—my first foray into fiction since I was 10 or 11.
The story grew to well over 6000 words. And even though it had a natural ending of its own, I didn’t feel like Ellen’s story was over. But I had little children and barely enough hours to get paying work done, and so I didn’t write much more. And then I did. I wrote the story of Ellen’s friend, Beth, the one she’s visiting when she goes out that first night. And it felt really good—like I had something happening, though I didn’t know quite what.
It’s no accident that the space I was finding for writing was growing to new proportions alongside my yoga practice. The yoga was giving me freedom to explore the writing, physical training for the mental journey. Grounded by yoga I found I could soar with words. The more I practiced yoga and writing, the more I felt ready to find out what happened next.
I had to make more time for writing. I did a couple of things: I set aside 90 minutes during my daughter’s dance classes to write at a Starbucks nearby. That was once a week and I knew I needed more. So I invited four wonderful women to join me in a Writing Circle. We would meet twice a month at my house, enjoy a sack lunch and chatting time, write for an hour, and then have an hour for sharing and feedback. It was the early spring of 2009.
The Writing Circle has been an amazing source of strength and comfort, sharing and support. Two of the original five of us have moved on and three no-longer new members have joined. Our sack lunches have morphed into a coordinated potluck for which we each take turns preparing a main dish. We have two martini parties a year, no writing then, but the rest of the time? We write and we write.
And so, little by little, nine hours a month, I wrote this book. I think it’s a pretty good book, actually, readable even. Supportive friends tell me it’s very good. I’d like what any writer would like: to find the book an agent, see it on a shelf. So now I’ve written a synopsis. Thus here, gentle readers, is a question for you: Would you read this book?
Throwing Like a Girl is an ensemble novel—an arc of deeply intertwined stories about a group of women, friends since college. It’s eighteen years later and their lives have taken predictable paths. To marry Al and raise a family, Beth gave up her urban planning career. Recently separated from her husband with three young children, she falls down the stairs in her house and dislocates her shoulder. Beth turns to her best friend Ellen for rescue, and Ellen leaves her own family, traveling to maintain Beth’s household for a few days. The book opens to find Ellen, out after dark running an errand. On the streets of Bethesda, MD, she is just realizing the unusual freedom of being alone, away from the responsibilities of home, and out at night, when she encounters a trio of men who frighten her. She stands up for herself, even though they don’t mean her any real harm.
The incident and the conversation with one of the men in the aftermath force Ellen to admit to herself that she’s got questions about where she is in her life, questions that are, it turns out, on the minds of each of her friends for very different reasons. Adrienne, who has not told her friends her husband Nik has left her, at forty is trying to conceive a child, even though she has no idea how she’ll manage as a single parent. Mimi, Adrienne’s TA in marine biology, seeks a way to keep her family together in spite of a lasting riff with her husband. Tanya, Beth’s older half-sister, and her husband Jeremy discover they’ve been living a destructive life of financial infidelity.
The last of the original six, Andi, lives and works in Philadelphia. Her story reaches her friends across the miles, as she struggles to care for an ailing parent. Two new women bring fresh perspective to the group—Beth’s next-door neighbor, Lori, a single lobbyist, and happily married Sheila, a dark-haired beauty who gets swept into the social moments in the book and turns out to have a story of her own.
Ellen stays at Beth’s from Monday through Saturday. Needing a respite from the tedium of childcare and housework and hoping to lift her friend’s spirits, Ellen plans a girls only dinner party. After a week of work and challenges, a surprise kiss, an even more surprised electrician, a beer-soaked bartender, a spectacular fire, and finding the meaning of life at a car wash, the women come together to blow off steam. As they enjoy wine and chocolate cake, the conversation turns to secrets, doubts and fears and a common theme emerges, what each is asking in her own words: Is that all there is?
Collectively, they suspect the answer is no, there’s more. Although the women ultimately may find more questions than answers, they come to understand they are stronger and happier in the solace and support of their group than struggling on their own. Throwing Like a Girl aims to address the inner strength women have to seek new opportunities, staying vibrant and creative in spite of the dirty gray dishwater that daily wrinkles their skin.
In celebration of Mercury cruising out of retrograde,