Every day a blank slate

Happy New Year! Usually at this time I’d be setting and announcing some serious goals for the upcoming year. I’m a big fan of goals and work hard to check each task off of my ongoing list of things to-do. However, life isn’t always a to-do list. Sometimes life throws you the unexpected and you have to make a decision to follow a different path.

Right now, there is a lot of limbo in my life– I’m applying to jobs; I’m submitting to agents. It seems a little self-defeating to make a goal to be at a certain milestone on a specific path when the path ahead is so murky.

Still, there are larger things from which I will never deviate. Therefore, I’ve been greeting each day as a blank slate with the following promises to myself.

I am working towards success in my writing,
I am working towards patience,
I am working towards strength,
I am working towards joy,

…and I am grateful.


NaNoWriMo Day 7: Showing up

So much of life is about showing up. It is about plunging into cold water, straddling a horse with its own agenda, boarding the bus on the first day of school, or putting your fingers on the keyboard and typing the first words of a novel. Even if we set goals, even if read and research a topic, plan a story or essay, or learn about a new activity, the fact is that someday we have to actually show up ready to do it.

In my current WIP, the main character has been avoided learning to swim because other things, running in her case, is easier. But when we are off-kilter in our learning, when we face disequilibrium, and challenge what is comfortable, we learn and grow and find a sense of achievement.

If you’ve showed up and plunked out a few words for your NaNoWriMo project each day, take a bow. Celebrate. You showed up. The more you show up, the easier it will be and the higher your word count will be.

My current word count: 5,414
Today: 1,147

Keep writing.

I resolve…

To be more organized. Now some of my on-line friends think that I am super organized. I organize conferences, send out submissions, search for agents, blog regularly (ahem). Okay maybe not I’m not a regular blogger. Maybe if I give Frank, the  LJ goat, some Metamucil, I’d be more regular. But I digress. The fact is that if you saw my studio/office in the last couple months you’d be shocked. Shocked that I dare to be so hypocritical as to tell my children to clean their rooms when mine is such a wreck. As my son E. says, “It looks like a junkyard.” Gotta love a kid who tells the truth. That’s a family value right there. So I’ve been slogging through piles, and recycling, and buying drawers for supplies, and reclaiming file cabinets, and vacuuming, and dusting and cleaning and…. I’m organized. There are a few more things to do. I need shelves for my  closet and Hubby is going to help me rearranging things and hang pictures. Then I’ll take a few photos and post them. I’m so excited to show you. When I was little, I’d finally clean my room and my Mom would make a big deal of coming upstairs and exclaiming her joy and pride. Today I marched everyone in the family through the room and they all had to make a big deal about it. Ahhh… now back to work. I’m sure that novel will be finished in no time.

Hello 2008

Dear Friends:
It seems that it is 2008. Funny that. I’m just going along, writing, mothering, and drawing… and planning conferences, submitting manuscripts, researching agents, job hunting, developing adult ed classes… that another year has come and gone. It is true that 2007 was a busy year and I’ve come a long way but it was not as fruitful as I’d hoped. Looking back on my 2007 journals it seems that some goals never seem to be complete. I keep saying I’ll write the first two chapters of my non-fiction but never do. My Roar book is a like a millstone around my neck. I keep revising and reworking getting farther from the original vision of the book.

What a downer. Who wants to read that? Okay… 10 highpoints of 2007!
1. The awesome feeling of possibilities when I started my novel for JoNoWriMo.
2. Fall Folio Feast 2007. Third time was a charm. Great speaker, great event and I was relaxed enough to enjoy it.
3. Volunteering for Meals on Wheels. I love what I do there and it makes me feel great.
4. New Friends and old. The schmoozes at Tami’s, the amazing LJ community, Botherhood 2.0, (The Project for Awesome was indeed awesome!)
5. Go SOX! Go Patriots!
6. Proposing classes for adult ed and being accepted.
7. Being asked to direct the NESCBWI conference and getting to know Janet and Francine.
8. My family is healthy and happy. My boys are growing into very nice people that I like to spend time with. My parents and siblings are well.
9. The satisfying feeling of doing interviews for various projects.
10. Travel up and down the east coast and through NY State that allowed me to see people and places I don’t usually see.
11. (Okay 11) I read A LOT this year and loved it.

Hope that is better reading for you. Finally, a question. What do you think of getting and MFA  in Writing for Children? Is it all for the experience? Do the contacts and crits help you get published? Or do you feel that the experience made you a better writer and THEN you got published?

Six week review

Any of my “self-time”  comes to an end tomorrow when summer day camp ends. I had lofty goals of all I’d accomplish during the summer while my boys were at camp. Here’s what I’ve been doing while I haven’t been blogging:

1. I have a new non-fiction picture book manuscript (in verse) and a finished piece of art for the same project complete. Well, it’s never really complete is it? I still need to complete the dummy. I’m sending it off to an expert reviewer before I start submitting. Hoping that helps. My crit group has been wonderful at catching beats that are off. This one just called out for rhyming.

2. Research for the “dance” book has been on the back burner while the picture book took my attention. However, the kid interviews I’ve received for this project make me so excited. I’m hoping that the SCBWI non-fiction grant comes through but I’ve applied to too many of grant, and award competitions without getting chosen to get my hopes up.

3. On the conference stage, the call for proposals is online at NESCBWI. Click on “Conferences”. Please note the new Workshop Rubric PDF and the Workshop Continuum that I designed. I’m working on exciting things for illustrators…(rubs hands in a wickedly secretive manner)

4. I should be busily addressing and posting our Fall Folio Feast postcards but that will be on hold until tomorrow. Promise they’ll be out by Friday.

5. I have also been applying to day jobs. I’ve had a couple of interviews, and in one way it is nice to be “back in the game.” It feels great to remind myself of how confident, organized and competent I am in dealing with other adults instead of just carting my children around all day. On the other hand, I have all these wonderful projects that seem to be taking off, and I have “that ” feeling. You know “that” feeling. The feeling that says, someone is going to call you any day now. That last manuscript will sell. This is your year. And yet, I have had “that” feeling before. I think it was New Year of 2006 and 2005. Maybe “that” feeling is really called hope. If you don’t have hope, you don’t have much. And hope, plus tenacity and talent? Boy, I’ve got it all…
except that contract.

6. Have read Reaching for Sun (wonderful!) Deathly Hallows, (very Narnia-esque I think) and I’m reading Goy Crazy (I can so identify with this book).

7. I’m headed off right now to interview a couple with an interesting story for a possible picture book. (don’t want to jinx anything)

8. Submitted a couple of magazine queries and stories, one response “maybe if you spin it as an essay,” and two others no response yet.

9. I think I left out a couple of other manuscript submissions and a ton of sketching but that is just the regular day to day. So the past six weeks have been really full. I hope you forgive my inactivity on LJ. I’m going on vacation for a couple weeks but see you again at the end of August.

Summer goals

I haven’t posted much recently. That’s because my arm was partially eaten by a giant pile of laundry. I have figured out that if I am wearing the right glasses I can fold laundry and catch up on my friends list, but I can’t comment or write my own posts. I have also been in research land.

I love research land. I love gathering resources, filling out interlibrary loan applications, and picking up the books when they arrive. I love the way index cards fit in your hand. I love the sound they make when you ca-chunk them together after a particularly successful day of taking notes. The problem is that I love it so much, I could go on reading and taking notes for a long time without doing my own writing.

So, for the month of June I pledge to:
Write the first chapter of my non-fiction WIP, and start Chapter two.
Complete note taking for my fiction WIP with the three books I have out now. (Due June 26 anyhow.)
Revise Roar illustrations.

That is if the giant pile of laundry doesn’t find…no…not now… I have important research to do! Ahhhhhhhhh!