Shh, the Genius is Working!

by Marinka on November 10, 2009

I’ve been working on my book.

You know, about the whole immigration to NYC from Leningrad.  My writing partnerette told me that I need to start referring to it as my MS.  Which I really hope stands for manuscript. I’ve had to practice saying it a lot because right now when I say it, I sound like a real pretentious asshole. I sure hope that weareths off.

So last night my kids asked me how it was going, mostly because I was sighing dramatically and saying things like “working on a book is a lonely life, children.  Well, besides the tweeting and the emailing and the blog updating.  A life of solitude. No one asks you how it’s going.”

And I had to tell them that I was stumped about the title.  And my son suggested “Leaving Russia”. Which seems too blunt.   My daughter suggested “My Memoir About Leaving Russia and Coming to NYC”.  Which tells the whole story, so there’s nothing left for the inside part of the book.  They’re no help and I probably won’t dedicate the MS to them.

So I’m writing my MS (which probably stands for masterpiece) and then I realize that I can totally infuse some historical significance into it because I’m writing about how cold it was in Leningrad, and I decide to mention that Russian winters are so cold, it made even the German army retreat.  My memoir can be taught at school.  In history.

But then, I’m plagued with doubt.  So I email Husbandrinka.

Hi, is it fair to say that the Nazis gave up on the whole Siege of Leningrad thing because it was super cold?

What could be simpler than just saying “absolutely!”  Because this is the response that I got:

Re the siege of Leningrad, I think it’s an oversimplification to say the Germans couldn’t stand the Russian winter and gave up.    I don’t have the exact sequence in my head, but the Germans invaded Russia in the summer of 1942, I think, and then made it almost to Moscow by the time winter set in.  Their supply lines were stretched very thin and the generals wanted to retreat, but Hitler wouldn’t let them.  He also had this sort of three-pronged strategy, where they would attack in the North (Leningrad), in the center (Moscow) and also in the South so as to take control of oil fields in the Caucasus.  The generals were very against this, since they believed in a traditional war theory that one had to control the enemy’s political capital.  At any rate, they dug in and held out for the winter of 1942-43.  I think this is when they started the siege of Leningrad.  The following year, the Soviets regrouped and started attacking them, culminating in the battle of Stalingrad in the South, which the Germans lost.  After that, they started retreating from all their positions in Russia, which is when the siege of Leningrad ended.  I could be making all this up, though, so why don’t you google it or something.


It’s really hard to write a lighthearted memoir with political references if people are going to start throwing in things like “traditional war theory” (which, by the way, I thought was more along the lines of “kill everyone”) and implying that my premise that the Nazis retreated because it was brrr-y is not accurate.

So, if you know any Nazis, could you ask them, please?  Because this creative process is hard enough without the added stress of historical research.

One year ago ...

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

A Mom on Spin November 10, 2009 at 7:56 pm

Those know-it-alls are such killjoys!
.-= A Mom on Spin´s last blog ..Winning the Lottery =-.


Maureen@IslandRoar November 10, 2009 at 8:24 pm

So how’s it going? The MS, I mean. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Don’t listen to Husbandrinka. Good writers are never entangled by Facts.
Especially when writing a memoir.
.-= Maureen@IslandRoar´s last blog ..At A Loss (part one) =-.


SubWife November 10, 2009 at 9:17 pm

I don’t know any Nazis, but I know that they invaded in 1941, June 22, to be precise. Sorry, couldn’t resist. Everything is probably true, but I am too lazy to Google it or ask my parents… Maybe you can enlighten us whether Husbandrinka is right? In your MS, of course, so we will have to buy the book to get the answer.


Marinka November 11, 2009 at 9:01 pm

That’s a great idea! I’ll keep the Nazi suspense angle in my MS. All will be revealed.


anna see November 10, 2009 at 9:38 pm

Wow. Husbandrinka’s smart. I think I’ve been reading too much Us Weekly and People.
.-= anna see´s last blog ..So the Thing That Separates Me From Fred Sanford is What? =-.


Maddnessofme November 10, 2009 at 10:40 pm

I read his response and thought ‘what’s his problem?’


Kirsten November 10, 2009 at 11:18 pm

That Husbandrinka. As if marrying you wasn’t brilliant enough, he still feels the need to prove his smarts.

You should ask my sister. Her high school boyfriend’s parents were actual Nazi youth. True story.


the mama bird diaries
November 10, 2009 at 11:33 pm

i think you should tweet your entire book.

and only use nicki as a reference.


anymommy November 11, 2009 at 1:16 am

I think kelsey’s onto something. Maybe you should email Nicki with your nazi questions. Husbandrinka is so historically pretentious.
.-= anymommy´s last blog ..Sweet Surrender =-.


November 11, 2009 at 2:09 am

He he he … I don’t know any Nazi’s. Well … hmm … I do know some Nazi-like people … but no actual Nazis. However, why can’t you include both. As a memoir … it’s your ‘belief’ that the German’s retreated because it was damned cold. And you know this because you retreated to NYC because it was damned cold … but in actuality … yadda yadda yadda … you learned later in life.

Fun and enlightening both.

Best of luck!


Marinka November 11, 2009 at 9:02 pm

That sounds like writing two books. Nice way to work math into the curriculum.
.-= Marinka´s last blog ..Shh, the Genius is Working! =-.


tracey November 11, 2009 at 2:36 am

I adore the last sentence on his response. But he totally deserves a thwack with a sock filled with rice.
.-= tracey´s last blog ..This is not a request for porn. I MEAN IT. =-.


christine November 11, 2009 at 5:31 am

You left Russia for THIS?!?! I don’t know how you can stand it.
Hey, that could be a good title.
.-= christine´s last blog ..simple things =-.


Tasha November 11, 2009 at 8:39 am

That sounds like the kind of response my husband would give. Nerds.


Heather, Queen of Shake Shake November 11, 2009 at 8:50 am

Are you sure you aren’t married to my editor? Because hubandrinka and his emails sound exactly the same, except change “Nazis” for “spring cleaning” and then it sounds the same.
.-= Heather, Queen of Shake Shake´s last blog ..Hurricane Preparation. Let’s Just Call It Preparation H for Short =-.


Lindsey November 11, 2009 at 9:02 am

I wish I could help you as my great-grandfather in law was a Nazi death soldier but alas… he’s dead.
I totally think Husbandrinka just made all that shit up. Nobody knows that much.. who does he think he is?
.-= Lindsey´s last blog ..H1N1 Not a media flu =-.


Lu November 11, 2009 at 9:12 am

How’s it going? Sounds to me like your husband is making stuff up again. It was totally the cold weather that stopped the Germans.
.-= Lu´s last blog ..Give Me Patience =-.


MarathonMom November 11, 2009 at 9:14 am

With all dew respect, isn’t that a little heavy for a first book? I think that, the Russian Cat Whisperer is a better angle. IJS. smooches!
.-= MarathonMom´s last blog ..My Mother of The Year Submission =-.


November 11, 2009 at 10:38 am

I would make a super cute publicist.
.-= OHmommy´s last blog ..There are many things that I don’t blog about. =-.


November 11, 2009 at 11:28 am

Husbandrinka is totally killing the vibe of your MS. Get him out of the picture now and just say, for creative license, that the cold killed the Germans. You can always iron out the details during editing.
.-= Vicki´s last blog ..This is how economists (theoretically) lose weight =-.


November 11, 2009 at 1:14 pm

Your husband and mine would get along well. The very formal and complete responses I get from him astound me sometimes. He seriously does everything but sign “sincerely” at the end.

I would put that it was “super cold, in combination with other military considerations” and leave it go at that.


Noelle November 11, 2009 at 1:56 pm

I had no idea we were married to the same guy (he would say EXACTLY the same thing). I guess that explains his 14 hour work days, flying back and forth between UT and NY, living a double life. Who knew!


Aidan Donnelley Rowley November 11, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Good luck on the manuscript/masterpiece. It is a solitary world, but also a wonderful one, right? Love your husband’s response and your response to his response. Thanks for the laugh.


November 11, 2009 at 4:03 pm

geez. Thank goodness he didn’t have the exact sequence in his head.

Fuck, but history is boring. Write your own version, I am sure it’ll be much better.
.-= Elisa´s last blog ..Stamp of Approval: the perfect ballet flat =-.


Momo Fali
November 11, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Dude. Husbandrinka is wicked smart. I bet he knows what MS stands for.


Jeanne November 23, 2009 at 7:39 am

How about “My Borscht Times Are Behind Me”?


In that case, I’m going to point out that the exact same thing happened to Bonaparte (as Nazi Germany, I mean, not that he left Russia to emigrate to New York).
.-= Jeanne´s last blog ..New Option for Saving Energy =-.


fuck yeah, motherhood!
June 22, 2010 at 8:19 pm

This is why I don’t read my ms-in-progress to the teens. Knowing them, they would just end up saying the three words that I don’t want interfering with my creative process: “That never happened.”


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