Friday, April 02, 2010

Guess Who Just Had The Best Workday This Year?

Last week I began revising the 365 Story Project (again), this time into a traditional novel using only one of the story lines from the original material. This week I set up a spreadsheet to keep track of various parts of the job. I used a spreadsheet while I was working on my last book, and while that still hasn't sold, I do think a spreadsheet gives me more control of the on-going work. And it allows me to keep track of word count, which is nice in terms of daily goal setting.

Today I reworked (sometimes generating new material) one thousand, two hundred and forty-seven words! Yes, I know there are writers who wouldn't fire up their word processors for that, but I am not one of them. In addition, I made a submission, which involved doing a little market research. And I continued with some research for another project I want to get started on soon. This means, I'm sort of working on two projects at once, which is a new experience for me. I'm rather liking it.

Now that I've got the spread sheet going and am working a big three days a week, I can go back to giving you training reports, which I had to give up last August. Excited, aren't you? My computer guy found the training reports mind-numbing, which I will remember the next time he gets going on the kind of mind-numbing thing only a computer guy can go on about.

What's the point of doing training reports here? It allows me to use the blog as a sort of writer work buddy. Some writers report to their writer buddies each day, which makes them work harder so they'll have something to report. Why training report instead of work report? I like the whole idea of training. Working, not so much.

Labels: ,

Sunday, March 28, 2010

That Probably Wasn't Good

Speaking of not doing everything I need to do, as I was, this at Mitali's Fire Escape nudged me into going over to Amazon to update my blog there. Whadayaknow? I hadn't updated in two and a half months or thereabouts.

I know I could link this blog to Amazon, but I want to keep Original Content totally independent. Also, I have this vague plan to make the Amazon blog about more nonprofessional interests.

I considered doing Goodreads or Indiebound, as Mitali suggested in her blog post, but who am I trying to kid? I'll never keep those things up to date.


What To Do? What To Do?

My work life involves one main writing project, historical research for another, this blog, occasional posts for an Amazon blog, occasional business e-mail, short story and essay submissions, a writing meditation thing, and professional reading. Yet I can only work three days a week. Needless to say, many things are not getting done. In fact, I have two white boards in my office, one for a business To Do list and one for a personal To Do list. I haven't had time to update either one of them since February 21.

This afternoon I had a couple of hours I was going to use for cleaning my desk and doing three submissions. I have this long-term fantasy that if I were just tidier and more organized, I would be able to do anything. I have another long-term fantasy about getting manuscripts out of my office.

What to do? What to do?

I moved a stack of books and found a file I was looking for. I made one submission.



Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How Dreadful Am I?

Yesterday, I managed to foist off Easter dinner on another family member. Easter dinner is traditionally my meal. Why was I so happy, even eager, to see the thing go off to Massachusetts?

Because I don't want to take time off from work to get ready for it!!!

The shopping, the cooking, the cleaning...I most definitely would have had to take Good Friday off to get it all done. It can take me two or three days to get ready for a holiday gathering, easily.

I kind of hate myself, but not all that much.

Labels: ,

Friday, February 05, 2010

Regarding That Time Problem I Was Just Mentioning

I've noticed that I haven't been receiving e-mails from any of my five listservs for a couple of weeks. That was okay. I didn't have time to deal with it recently, anyway. But this week, I began to get suspicious. And I've been getting odd e-mails from my Internet access provider regarding some kind of full mailbox. Couldn't imagine what those folks were talking about.

Then today I said to my computer guy, "Guy, do you suppose there's some connection between the e-mails I've been receiving from the Internet folks and the e-mails I haven't been receiving from all my listservs? Because I gotta wonder."

He looked into it, waved his hands over the computer keyboard, said a few incantations, and the next thing I knew, I had over 700 new e-mails downloading.

So now I'm more than 700 messages behind with the listservs and 363 posts behind with the blog reader.

Yeah, I'm gonna go sign up for Twitter! And Facebook, too!


Friday, January 15, 2010

Retreat Weeks Can Be Productive

So, here I am, back from my retreat. No, we did not stay in the cabin to the left. We hiked there on snowshoes yesterday. That's my back you see in the interior shot. I'm stripped down to my thermal undershirt, which, I believe, had a paint stain on one of the cuffs. Can't imagine how that happened. As my companion said, we didn't look as if we'd come up from the resort; we looked as if we'd come down from the mountain.

While retreating, I refused to check my e-mail. It was a lot easier than I would have thought, in part because Internet access was so slow at our timeshare unit last week that there wasn't a lot of temptation to go on-line. This morning I decided that I could live like that. Not without e-mail, but without checking it so often. Certainly without checking it first thing in the morning.

I check my e-mail first thing in the morning, and if I find things from family members, I feel compelled to blow off thirty or forty minutes of valuable workout/workbook/worktime responding. Or sometimes I get inquiries from people regarding appearances. I blow off valuable workout/workbook/worktime responding and almost always never hear from the inquirer again. Sometimes I'll see listserv e-mails I want to respond to. And there goes some more workout/workbook/worktime.

Wouldn't life be better, I thought as I lay on my wonderful bed at my mountain guesthouse, if I waited until mid-day to check my e-mail? Wouldn't my day be off to a much better start if I tended to my workouts and that so-called writing meditation I've been doing in my workbook and then got some real work behind me before I faced whatever turns up in the e-mail? Wouldn't I accomplish so much more? Wouldn't I at least feel better?

Then, while I was still lying there in bed, I came up with this idea regarding my listservs. Instead of wallowing around in all of them every day, why don't I assign each one one day of the week? I only check child_lit on its assigned day. I only check the kidlitosphere on its assigned day? I could go on and on re. all my listservs, but I'm sure you get my point.

With all the time I'll be saving with the e-mail plan, listserv assignments, and avoiding tabloid news stories, I should be able to write a new book every six months.


Monday, January 04, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

Last year I made a New Year's resolution that I actually kept. The resolution was to moisturize more. Notice how modest this resolution is. Notice that I merely said I would moisturize "more." I didn't set an arbitrary amount. Also, I didn't set an outcome. I didn't resolve to moisturize more so that I will look ten years younger or get rid of those dreadful creases around my eyes. I just said I would "moisturize more." Thus, any moisturizing I did meant I was successful.

I have learned from this experience.

This year I have resolved to read less so-called entertainment news of the What Dreadful Thing Has Jon Gosselin Done variety or Celebrities Without Makeup variety during the workday. I actually got started a little before the beginning of the year on this, and it's going pretty well. Notice, I said I would read "less" of this stuff, not that I would stop. And I also allow myself to read it during the evening or on weekends. Though I'm finding that I'm not having to do that. Yet.

Today's Resolution Stats: I did not read How Elin Nordegren Spent the Holidays, Celebrities Another Year Older..., or Susan Sarandon Spent Quality Time With Some Young Guy I've Never Heard Of.


My Desk Is Like Every Other Part Of My Life

This post on workspaces by author Kathleen Kudlinski initiated a pretty big response on the New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators listserv. If it wasn't so much work, I'd take a picture of my work area in the office and post it here. But it is so much work. So just imagine the worst.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

She Almost Had Me Convinced.

Mitali Perkins' post last month on authors using social networking was very convincing. The numbers of people who showed up at her book parties would be good anywhere, forget about a town where she didn't live. (A few years ago I had lunch with the author of a collection of literary short stories. He told me that he'd had a signing scheduled in the town where he lived. No one showed up, so he went home.)

I was truly considering trying a social network after reading Mitali's post. But when I was talking about it at dinner, a family member who is all too aware of my work habits, asked, "But when will you write?"

He asked the same thing tonight when I brought up the possibility of teaching a writing course.

I think he's quite right about the course, by the way. Given how slowly I do everything, a writing course could take a big bite out of my writing time.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Doesn't This Mean I Should Go Hiking On Wednesday?

Today I was out hiking, when, after several hours, I had an idea for revising an essay I finished last Monday. The idea involved reworking the material for use as a presentation for teenagers or as an article for an educational publication for high school teachers.

Or maybe both!

I got the idea for the essay I was considering revising on September 28th, when I spent a big part of the day (a Sunday) reading. I finished a book called Chi Walking. I kid you not, it helped me formalize some thoughts about kids trying to publish their writing, which related back to the day last spring when a teacher at an elementary school asked if I had any advice for kids wanting to do just that. I had to tell her I didn't believe kids should be publishing their work.

Awkward moment.

One of the ways I justify all the time I spend doing non-work related stuff is that I try to convince myself that I could very well come up with some fine ideas by doing so. And on September 28th, and then again this afternoon, I think I did.

So wouldn't I be a fool to stay home and work on Wednesday when I could be hiking and, perhaps, coming up with a seriously important writing idea?

Of course, ideas are all well and good. You have to do something with them, though. So unfair.

Labels: ,

Thursday, June 19, 2008

An Idiot Savant Novelist

Justine Larbalestier has a post up on writing and structure in which she refers to herself as an idiot savant novelist. I definitely feel that way about my writing past. I get the feeling, though, that she doesn't feel as badly about being an idiot savant novelist as I do. I want to be better than I am, while she seems to be all whatever. In fact, at one point in her post she actually says, "Whatever."

Perhaps this is the difference between being from Oz and being from northern New England. There's a lot of sun down under, is there not? While when I was in high school I heard that there was a lot of suicide in Vermont because of the long winters. You hear that kind of thing about where you live while you're in your formative years, and it can't help but have an impact on you.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I Am Inspired. Maybe.

I think we're all clear on my terrible work habits. Chris Barton at Bartography is working on changing his. Not that I mean Chris has terrible work habits. But he is trying to change his work habits, terrible or not.

For instance, he's started getting up early, bless him. I have rolled out of bed between five and six on occasion, but my gut feeling is that doing it every day can't possibly be good for me.

Chris is also cutting back on Internet time. He seems to be sticking to that plan, too, because recently he's only been posting at his blog on Sundays. That seems as if it could be way too radical a shock to my system. However, I might try to take an Internet break once a week as he's been doing.

This reminds me of a time when I was thinking of taking up fasting. Sure, I thought. I could fast. Yeah. On Sundays. I could fast once a week on Sundays...On Sunday afternoons...Absolutely...On Sunday afternoons from, say, 12, 12:30...Maybe 1 o'clock...Yeah...I could fast on Sundays from 1 o'clock about 5:30?...5:00?


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Relics From The Desk

The desk, itself, doesn't seem as if it will be that bad to clean this time, though this is my third partial day working on it, which certainly makes it sound like quite a job, doesn't it? I'm not including the stuff on the floor or the various in-baskets and vertical files in my assessment.

Intriguing things I've found so far:

The most recent issue of The Horn Book. It looks totally alien to me. Don't think I've looked at it, can't even remember it coming into the house.

A back issue of The Horn Book. Looks familiar.

A reprint of Techniques for Understanding Literature: A Handbook for Writers by Professor John Reynolds, which I bought while I was all excited about visiting The UConn Co-op in January. I thought I'd read it during that fantasy study month I imagine I'm going to have sometime in my lifetime. Totally forgotten about this thing. It was still in the bag. On the desk. Under some other stuff.

The U.F.O. Hunter's Handbook . I bought this on-line a while back because in a section called 10 Essential UFO Books, the authors include My Life Among the Aliens. I think that was a very legitimate reason for buying the book, but what am I supposed to do with it now? I could put it up in the attic with whatever Aliens materials I have stored up there for my offspring to dispose of after they dispose of me, but that would mean going up to the attic and finding the correct box. And who has time for that?

Though if I did go up in the attic and find the correct box, I could also put the Teaching Genre: Science Fiction unit up there. I bought it several years ago because it, too, mentions My Life Among the Aliens. It's been on the floor near the office door for a couple of years, so it would be handy just in case I left the office and was going directly to the attic.

The American Boy Visits the Orient by Sydney Greenbie, published in 1946. This is on loan from the co-worker of a family member. I was going to read it as research for an old-time boys' adventure story. I've had it since last summer. I've decided to just return it.

Two books on off-color French phrases. There's a perfectly logical reason for me owning them, but it's boring.

Some more receipts to apply to last year's taxes.

Sometimes when I clean things I find money--rolled up dollar bills, even a five or, very rarely, something bigger. But that's usually in pockets of last season's clothes or in beach bags or backpacks or things like that. I shouldn't get my hopes up about finding much cash on this desk.


Monday, March 17, 2008

The Big Clean

Last Friday I started cleaning my desk. I know I said I was going to do it back in November, but I didn't get far. I didn't get far on Friday, either. In fact, I think I made things worse.

I believe that sometime last year Justine Larbalestier cleaned her desk, and it took her twelve days. I think that sounds very reasonable.

What does this have to do with you? Well, whenever I clean my desk, I find treasure. And when I find treasure, I tell you about it.

Stay tuned.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Spinning My Wheels

This is so like me. In so many ways.

In 2006 I was reading Louise Doughty's Telegraph column, A Novel in a Year. Each week she was writing a column on some aspect of writing a book. I was using various suggestions to help generate material for The Durand Cousins. But, as so often happens to me, I fell behind in my reading. At the beginning of 2007, I could no longer find the columns at The Telegraph site. I assumed that was because Doughty was turning the columns into a book.

Then this afternoon I found the columns back at The Telegraph site. How marvelous, right? Well, yeah, except now I'd like to find time to finish reading them.

Now I can't find her columns for A Writer's Year, which she wrote in 2007. I hadn't finished reading those, either.

Falling behind, losing things, finding them much later, losing something else... Really, I think I deserve some kind of award for ever getting anything done.

Labels: ,

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Crash And Burn

My computer guy says my posts on my daily stats are dull and boring. Yeah, I know. This coming from a computer guy. I laugh. Ha-ha-ha-ha.

My daily stats posts were all about my excitement about entering some kind of weird zenny state where the work was all there was for a couple of hours each day, and just by working I could work. The work created work.

I can't remember the last time this happened to me, so I thought that perhaps I was evolving into a higher lifeform. It was about time. I was hopeful, at least, but in my heart of hearts, I knew it wouldn't last.

Today I received what's known at the home office as the first pass of the galleys for A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers (with art!), which needed to be looked at right away so they could go off to be printed into arcs. Thursday is one of my half days, anyway, and between the galleys, and e-mailing my editor, and getting an e-mail from her, and e-mailing her again, well, I wrote maybe three paragraphs on The Durand Cousins.

Galleys are wonderful because the book is pretty much done as far as the author is concerned, and soon it will be another notch on your pistol grip. But by this point, you've written that freaking book so many times, and seen it so many times that it no longer seems original and brilliant to you and you worry that this will be the book that makes clear to everyone that you have no business publishing. How did she find a publisher? Did she have incriminating pictures? Did she hold someone's child hostage?

You really want to be working on the new book, which you haven't seen too much of yet, so you still think it is original and brilliant and could be your masterpiece, the work you will be remembered for a hundred years after your death. Assuming you don't die too soon. You've got to get that masterwork written fast and you've got to find a publisher for it and get a contract signed before the new book comes out because once the new book comes out no one will want you anymore.

But then working on the old book destroys the flow you finally created for working on the new book, and you know you'll never get it back and all is lost. Lost.

The design work and art for A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers looks really good. And soon there will be arcs! Yippee!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Today's Stats

No, I don't have problems with basic math skills, but yesterday I did make a mistake with some cutting and pasting and one section of work was counted twice. So I only did 1200 some odd words instead of 1650. That's still over a thousand words a day, which is all I was shooting for. More than made up for yesterday's stumble today, though, because...Da, da, da, daaaaaaa...

3,480 words written, almost all of them new and original! That's an enormous number for me. That's like real work.
0 games of Spider Solitaire played. I haven't played it in days.

There may be an end in site to this thing.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Today's Stats

1,650 words. Not new, never before seen, but new, improved. I ended up revising and expanding yesterday's work. I'm no further along, but, I hope, better.

And I'm quite looking forward to work tomorrow, which I must admit is unusual.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Today's Stats

1,700 all new, never before seen, words written!
0 games of Spider Solitaire played
1 new listserv joined
A few too many cookies eaten, but they were small


Friday, October 12, 2007

Good News And Bad News

The good news is that today I finished rewriting the first eight chapters of The Durand Cousins. The bad news is that I began that job at the beginning of August.

Part of the reason it took me so long is that I couldn't just rearrange text as I'd hoped. In order to do what I wanted to do, I had to generate new text as well as rework some of what I'd already done. I have ten thousand more words and two more chapters than I originally had.

I think I'm three-quarters of the way through this draft, with all new work to come. I do think I know what I'm going to be writing, though, which can only be a help now, can't it?

When I finish, I'm going to take a week off to let the dust settle and then start over again. My hope is to take this first-person draft and rework it as third person. The first person draft is generating material, but I really want to write a third-person book.

I have done it before, so it's not as if I'm hoping for a miracle.

Work has been going very, very well this past week and a half. Not only have I been meeting my daily goals, but sometimes going far beyond them.

I'm feeling a little anxious about that next third-person draft. I tried to write A Girl, a Boy, and a Monster Cat in the third person, but it kept sounding instructional, like something from the nineteenth century. So yesterday while I was at the library, I found some third person novels to try to get myself into the proper mindset.

Oh, and by the way, I didn't play Spider Solitaire once this week. No doubt that was a factor in my improved productivity.

Labels: ,

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Finale

I am having to clear out some of the blogs on my own personal blog roll because I don't have time to go to all of them. (I suspect this is happening to a lot of people. The number of bloggers increased astronomically or exponentially or something these past two or three years, and now there are probably more blogs than there are people to read them.) While doing so I found that I fell...ah...a month and a half behind reading Mark Peter Hughes Lemonade Mouth Across America blog.

In short, the Hughes family has been home since August 25th. Now Hughes, who quit his day job last March, is a stay-at-home parent and writer whose wife is working outside the home. This scenario calls out for a memoir and/or movie a la A Year in Provence, only with lots of sitting in front of a computer screen reading about Anna Nicole Smith, Brittany Spears, and the inquest on the Princess of Wales.

Oh. Wait. That's my literary year.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

But I Don't Whiiiiiiiine

Yesterday I did around a thousand words on The Durand Cousins, and today I did around twelve hundred. Unfortunately, today's twelve hundred words replaces yesterday's one thousand.

I know I shouldn't be revising at this point--I should be pushing through to the end. But one of the things I keep doing with this book is whining. (Sort of like I do here.) And once I get bogged down in the whine, I have trouble with a voice that drives the story. It's almost as if having the correct voice generates material.

That was today's reason for revising. By the way, I wasn't planning to revise when I sat down at the computer. But, as I said, I really was stuck in a whine bog, and you can't just walk out of something like that.

I've nearly revised all the material I decided to revise when I realized some time ago that I was bogged down in whining. Unfortunately, that time I didn't notice the problem until I'd done around forty thousand words.

Here's the sad thing--When I finally finish this first draft, having started over a couple of times and reworked all kinds of material before I get there--I'll still have a crappy first draft. Yet I will be so happy because I won't have a couple of hundred blank pages.

Labels: ,

Sunday, September 02, 2007

I Was Put Off My Dinner

My responses to the things that happen to me often seem to relate to my work or the way I work. For instance, last night we went out to a friend's house for dinner. I caught sight of her office. It's half the size of mine and immaculate. It looks like something from HGTV.

Mine, on the other hand, looks as if it's the home of a very unhealthy mind. Last summer I cleaned it and managed to keep it clean for months. It's just been falling apart all year. If I could find my digital camera and figure out how to upload pictures from it, I'd show you.

If you were to see my office on TV, it would probably be on an episode of SVU. It would belong to a perpetrator, and, remember, the perps on SVU are guilty of especially heinous crimes. Benson would take one look at it and make a disparaging comment about the kind of person who could live like this. Stabler would start putting on his gloves. They'd be turning the case over to the assistant district attorney right after the commercial because it went without saying that the evidence they needed was somewhere right in front of them.

Well, I could worry about this. Come down to the office in the night and try to clean. Seek help. But I think this is another one of those situations where you have to take a Zen-like approach and remember that envying others their tidy offices and healthy minds will lead to nothing but unhappiness.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Trail Magic

Yesterday I blew off work to go hiking with my hiking friends. After a couple of hours, a guy who has to be well over seventy started talking about "back when I hiked the AT." (For those of us who believe we deserve a medal because we managed to keep our hiking boots on for half a day, the AT is the Appalachian Trail.)

I got involved with this conversation when I heard the word "beer." It seems he was out there with some people and came upon some kind of bag by the side of the trail holding four bottles of beer. "Trail magic!" a woman with him said.

"So whenever you find beer, it's trail magic?" I asked. Doesn't that sound just like me? Unbelievably nitpicky.

Well, it seems that whenever people further along the trail leave something good for those who are coming along behind them, it's known as trail magic. It doesn't have to be beer. It can be anything.

Another hiker said that that's not the only kind of trail magic. Evidently down in the southern part of the country where the trail starts, you can get a lot of traffic during prime hiking season. Some local people will set up grills at well- traveled spots and hand out hot dogs to hikers passing by. Someone told about a farm near a trail, and the farmwife will often put out freshly baked cookies for hikers.

Most hikers hoping to cover the whole Appalachian Trail start at the southern end and walk north. This, I learned yesterday, is because it takes a while to walk from Georgia to Maine. So they'll start down south because spring comes earlier in the year down there. By the time they get to the northern states, winter has passed, snow is gone, and the hiking is better. Evidently the Trail is busier down south than up north because many people begin the hike without finishing. Or, at least, they don't finish up in Maine or even New England.

Live and learn, eh?

I'm mentioning all this because I keep thinking that trail magic sounds...magical. This whole concept sounds like something I ought to be able to use in my writing some day.

And if I could, then I wouldn't have to feel badly about having taken yesterday off from work when I am already so far behind.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Why I'll Never Go Far

I just can't stay on task with promotion. It's not just that I'm not that great at forcing myself out there. Almost everyone has trouble with that. No, I can't seem to make any kind of organized marketing effort. If I get some promotional ideas, I don't move on them fast enough or never bother carrying through with them at all. If I do carry through, I forget about them afterward.

A case in point: While looking up another author, I just now stumbled upon an interview with myself at Young Adult (& Kids) Books Central. I remember answering these questions now but I'd forgotten about the whole thing up until about ten minutes ago. I probably forgot about the interview as soon as I'd submitted the answers.

And, yes, I forget about short story submissions after I make them, too.

Really, it's a miracle that I've gotten as far as I have.

Labels: ,

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Betting Window Is Closed

I made one thousand words by noon and eighteen hundred for the day.

I've been hitting the thousand word mark a lot lately, in spite of continuing to surf and play spider solitaire. I'm not at all sure what's working for me, though I have a theory. Too soon to expound on it.


Will Gail Meet Her Goal Today?

Okay, today I have my two guys upstairs working on my ceilings, another guy doing something to my driveway, and a family member out mowing the lawn. Perhaps all this activity won't distract me. Perhaps all this hard work going on around me will inspire me to greater than normal efforts.

It could happen.

Place your bets now.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

On The Other Hand

Just yesterday I said, "I find that if you can get deeply emerged in a writing project, material comes to you. It's all very mystical and mysterious."

Well, if you're not deeply immersed in a writing project the material won't come. You might as well go iron clothes or paint your living room. At least you'll see something for your time and effort.

On Monday I finished Chapter Five of The Durand Cousins. It was probably the fifth work day in which I broke a thousand words, which I've probably mentioned here before is about as good as it gets for me. (One day I did 1800 words.) Then yesterday I didn't work at all because I needed to take care of some life maintenance. Then this morning I had to go hiking for three hours, which left me quite drained, if not actually staggering, because it was 90 degrees out here. And not a dry, pleasant 90 degrees, either.

So I finally get back to the computer this afternoon and spend vast quantities of time avoiding work by checking my e-mail a dozen times, checking out the news services, etc. When I finally force myself to attend to the task at hand, not only am I not deeply emerged and receiving material in some mystical and mysterious way, I realize that the end of Chapter Five won't work. It doesn't fit technically and it's probably sappy, too.

The chances of my becoming emerged before next week are not great.

Waily! Waily! Waily!*

*The Wee Free Men

Labels: ,

Monday, June 25, 2007

That Was A Close Call

Today I received an e-mail from an editor apologizing for not getting back to me for so long and saying that they'd just discussed my query recently. They thought they might be interested in the article in the future and were keeping me in mind but if I had a chance to publish it elsewhere, go for it.

I sat there in front of my computer monitor and thought, Hmmm. What do you suppose that's about?

Well, as it turned out, I'd queried these folks back in February regarding an article I was interested in doing on humor for kids. I had given a talk on that very subject but I had not yet written the article I was offering them. Editors don't exactly fall all over themselves to publish my nonfiction, and I thought it would be very foolhardy of me to use good time I could spend writing other things that wouldn't sell if I couldn't find someone who was at least interested before I got the ball rolling.

When I never heard from these people, I just took it as rejection. Rejection rolls off from me like water off a duck. I can barely tell anything's happened. In fact, when I never heard from these people the only thing I can recall thinking was, Well, Gaily, you called that one correctly. Good for you.

So when I saw who this e-mail was from, I had sort of an odd reaction. 1. You don't suppose they actually want this article, do you? 2. Crivens!* Now, I might have to write the thing!

As it turns out, this was rather a nice response. They may want it in the future, but I don't actually have to do anything about it any time soon.

*I'm reading The Wee Free Men.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

How About A Reading Retreat?

Jacqueline Davies, who is all over the place this summer, has an article in the May/June issue of the SCBWI Bulletin called When in Doubt: Retreat!

I've toyed with the idea of attending a writers' retreat, just as I've toyed with so many other things--attending a writers' conference or graduate school, for instance. But the problem with doing any of these things is that they might be too much work. And I might have to do things I don't want to do. Plus the business about too much work.

After reading Davies' article, I got to thinking about things I'd like to do on a retreat, and I realized that reading was high on my list. (I still haven't given up on finding a job reading that pays and provides benefits.) And then I thought, why not just set up my own retreat for reading?

This is actually more practical than it sounds. I am overwhelmed with stuff to read. I've got piles of it around here. A lot of it is what I consider professional reading--a book of essays because I'm interested in writing same, a couple of books on writing that a young relative brought home for me from college (They're virtually untouched--hmmm.), writing magazines I've started and never finished, things I've downloaded from the Internet.

This past winter I set up a system in which I set aside Thursdays for reading. I had a class in the morning and another late in the afternoon, so I just spent the intervening time working on this serious reading. That was okay for a few weeks, but what often happens to me is that I end up losing workdays for life maintenance (scavenging for food, shopping for family events, cleaning for guests) or for dealing with sick relatives, medical appointments, etc. And, uh, going hiking. Long weekends. Whatever. Then I really need those Thursday hours to write.

I also tried to do a little professional reading every morning before getting started work. That was lovely for about three days. Then I realized it was cutting into my Internet surfing and gave it up.

So now I'm thinking about going on a reading retreat every two or three months. I have a sunroom, after all, and even though its windows haven't been washed for two years, it would be a decent retreat space in good weather. I have a woodstove, which is a necessity for reading in the winter.

I'm serious about trying this, but I can already foresee a problem. If I schedule a reading retreat day and end up losing time from work that week because of any of the reasons given above, I'm not going to feel I can sacrifice more time for reading. But I will be positive and believe that everyone will remain healthy, no vehicles will break down, and my hard drive (which often sounds very odd) will continue to limp along.

And this new schedule will be just the thing I need to make me absolutely brilliant and productive.


Friday, March 30, 2007

Memoir--That's One Weird Genre

Not to worry, folks. I am not interested in writing a memoir, fascinating though my life in my cellar office is. What I am interested in is personal essays and creative nonfiction, but no one was running a free symposium on either of those subjects a half hour from my home so I had to go to this one.

The morning panel discussion on truthiness was fantastic. The afternoon discussion on memoir and meditation was not as terrific, though I liked one of the panelists a lot. Why, Gail, you may ask, did you even consider attending a discussion on memoir and meditation? Well, ah, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

I was feeling really stimulated creatively until the question and answer period after the second panel discussion, which drifted off onto "writing practice." Everyone in the whole freaking world has better work habits than I do. In fact, by the time I headed home at 4 o'clock I was feeling quite worn out, an indication that I really am not used to doing much if sitting and paying attention to speakers exhausts me.

Labels: ,