Successful arrivals

San Francisco airport’s international terminal has two arrival portals. An incoming passenger treks in from the arrival gate, rescues her bags from the roundy-roundy, queues up to submit her passport to the polite but unsmilng scrutiny of the Immigration official, hands over the form that vows she is not bringing in apples or radioactive waste or stacks of cash, and then pushes ahead into a featureless hallway, hoping the customs people haven’t spotted something on that form that makes them pop out and pounce on those bags as they go past.

In the meantime, those waiting to greet-and-fetch the passengers are milling around in the terminal, eyes glued to a series of television screens showing the traffic in those same featureless hallways. A constant trickle of people cross the screen: two women in saris corral three beautifully dressed children around a heaped-high baggage cart; a freshly-shaved man in a rumpled suit pulling a rollie case dodges a pair of yawning teenage girls in what look like pajamas, one of them grasping a pillow the size of her torso; a spry and determined septuagenarian aims her cart at freedom. Exhausted or exhilarated or irritated or comatose they come, making their way upstream like fish through a stark white stream, oblivious to the lens transmitting their images to the people waiting on the other side of the walls.

A few regulars know the eye is there, and remember it in time to wave to the invisible friends already in the outside world. When I came back from the UK three weeks ago and hit that last turn in the hallway, I remembered. I looked up and waved at the little lump in the ceiling with the lens in the middle.

And outside, invisible to me, forgetting in her excitement that there is no way I can see her gesture, my daughter waves back.

And that, dear friends, is what I am doing at the moment with my rewrite of The Language of Bees. I am making my way towards the exit, but I am also remembering the camera, and I am going over every page, every scene, every line to make it one on which you, the reader, forgets this is a story, and waves back.

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  1. LaideeMarjorie on July 20, 2008 at 10:27 am


    As for myself, and I assume that I speak for many others here, we started waving the moment we picked up BEEK and have been joyously waving ever since through thousands of your pages. So please continue to toil away, but know that we are on the journey with you (with you as our pilot) for as long as it lasts. Over at Letters of Marywe are already talking about just how we are going to read LANG when it is published (or before, if an ARC happily comes our way,) and not accidentally give out any spoilers to each other and yet enjoy the experience together.


  2. Carlina on July 20, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    *Waves happily*

    Just remember, like The Face of Boe told Doctor Who…You are not alone. You’re definitely not alone on this journey as Marjorie points out.

    I’ll look forward to reading LANG when it comes out and becoming so completely immersed it in….

    Best of luck in the last go round….

  3. Strawberry Curls on July 20, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    What a delightful analogy. I’m now picturing thousands of your faithful readers waving furiously and cheering you toward the finish line, where you emerge, finished book in hand to the ebullient greetings from us all. Thank you so much for allowing us to observe your journey, and for remembering we are all out here…waving.

    Marjorie is correct, once the book is in hand I will not be able to wait to read it, and will have to guard what I say, so as not to spoil it for others.

  4. Chris on July 21, 2008 at 3:58 am

    Wonderful analogy…I can well remember that arrival process in that very Terminal and, I have to say, I much prefer the literary version… Looking forward to any and every update, especially news of a UK publisher! (Any chance that your RH team in NY can have a word in their UK counterparts’ ears…?)

    All good wishes

  5. BetsyC on July 21, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    And that brilliant image, so typical of your writing, illustrates just why we wait prayerfully for your next novel. Long may you wave!

  6. Teresa on July 21, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    I don’t know why but this post made me cry. I think it’s the way you slipped us in at the end, as if you couldn’t wait any more than we could for the book to be out.


  7. LaideeMarjorie on July 21, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Ah, Teresa, that was so sweet of you. It was Laurie calling us “dear friends” that got to me! Sigh.


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