Thursday, June 4, 2009

Rewriting Miss Penny

In July, I fly to NYC to pick up a manuscript that has been long in the writing to do a bit of editing, re-structuring and generally pulling the storyline together. It has taken Penny 10 years, maybe more to put it together, but even longer than that when you count the years it was tumbling in the writer's mind.
I know the manuscript already, had seen it in a very very rough stage at a writer's workshop at UCLA. So that part is good, but the real allure was the writer herself.

They just don't make 'em like this anymore.

Miss Penny grew up in Manhattan during WWII. Her parents were wealthy, and so Penny enjoyed the type of private school where you throw ceramics and talk about communism while planning your next trip to Paris or Madrid. She was a model, John Ford was entranced by her and flew her to Hollywood for a screen test. She became a writer, a journalist, then a successful Chief Editor of a fashion magazine based in NYC in the 60's and 70's. She worked for the papers, she knew all the designers, she drove a convertible sportscar and bought a huge 4 story townhouse in Greenwich Village.

She used to swap parking spaces with Calvin Trillin, dated other famous authors like Tobias Wolff who decided she liked poodles more than men. And speaking of, she had several husbands though only one daughter. The author traveled through Bamiyan in the 1960's, left publishing and became a filmmaker. She is the most fun person to have a drink with, the worst driver when sober. Needless to say, this woman has a history and stories like hers are ones that you come across and think, "No, that can't be true."

But then you find out that it is.
Oh, how much fun I'll have!