Please welcome to the blog author Joshua Braff. His latest novel, THE DADDY DIARIES has been hailed as ‘humorous and poignant.’ Today he’s talking about how where you live can affect creativity and his experiences writing and living in different places.
For more about Josh and his new book, see below.
JOSH: I have now lived and worked on both coasts. Although I was born and raised in New Jersey, I have called the San Francisco Bay Area home for many years. That’s where I wrote my first two novels, The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green and Peep Show. A recent move temporarily transplanted me and my family to St. Petersburg, FL, where I felt much less at home, and where I wrote my new novel, Daddy Diaries.
My first two novels were written in libraries in San Francisco and Berkeley. The idea was to locate an optimal cubicle near a window and hope to God no one would be there when I arrived each morning. I had to have alternate cubicles. The one by the bathroom was the last resort. It had a fluorescent desk light that flickered and gave me headaches. Surrounded by other people (library rats) with hunched backs and greenish skin, we forged onward into our silent, seemingly academic journeys. One guy was there for two months. I got to know him by sight only, but privately refereed to him as a colleague. He suddenly finished studying for the bar one day and just stopped coming. I missed him. Another longtime familiar face had finished studying for the MCAT and was simply gone one Tuesday, her chair so very, very empty. Eventually my time ended too, leaving me highly uninterested in ever returning to either library. It was like leaving a shaky job site behind.
Florida was hot. We arrived in the summer and I felt like I had to shove the humid air out of my way to walk through it. Air conditioning in Florida is more like oxygen. Without manmade cooling devices, humans would die there. I decided I’d write in Starbucks. They had vats of Nordic air coming from the ceiling. A man could live a hundred years in this room. I also liked how there were people working there with huge black discs in their earlobes. I figured this must be where all the freaky artist folks go. In time I’d get used to the whoosh of the milk steamer and the microwave alarm beeping eight hundred times. In Florida I felt like the only person for a million miles writing a novel. In San Francisco my project was one of many artistic ventures that took to flight at the same time. I was very prolific in Florida, and my memory of the color and sunlight helped lighten the emotional load of bringing a literary novel to fruition.
I’m back in the SF Bay Area now and I have a strong feeling of belonging. It’s easier to create where you belong. I have no plans of ever permanently leaving this part of the country.
DADDY DIARIES SUMMARY:
Chronicling the very topical world of marital role reversal, THE DADDY DIARIES is a humorous and poignant novel about a relationship between a stay-at-home dad and his two preteen kids. When the family is uprooted from California to Florida for his wife’s job, Jay must acclimate to life in the south. With a rich but stupid older brother, a lunatic townie friend, and a teen son who’s ready to know what a “threesome” is, Jay’s world is tossed about as far as the San Francisco Bay to the Gulf Coast.