Thursday, February 28, 2013
Writers spend a lot of time waiting -- at least I do: waiting for comments, waiting for contracts, and (during the first draft) waiting for ideas. For me it's one of the hardest things about writing.
Waiting makes me really uncomfortable -- but I've learned that trying to force answers from myself is no more helpful than trying to force them from other people. When I'm writing, I just have to sit and stare at the blank screen -- or go for a walk or do something mindless. Then, sometimes, the solution comes. Or sometimes I write something I know is bad, hoping that when I sit down again the next day I'll know how to make it better.
Raold Dahl said NEVER to stop when you do'nt know what to do next or you'll never start again! I think he's right--even if the solution doesn't come, I still need to sit there, trying: the next day, too.
What do you do when you're stuck in your writing?
These days, I don't allow waiting to hear from an agent or editor to be an activity (it used to be!) -- I just start something else. But I do sometimes wait for comments. And once I send this novel out, even though I will be starting something else, I don't know if I will wait patiently or passively to hear about IT past a certain point....but I might.
When I sent out my last published novel (a long time ago) I made a vow to just put it out of my mind, and (somewhat amazingly) I was able to do that. I really felt that I had done all I could and it was out of my hands....maybe that's the secret. Anyhow, when I did hear, it came as a surprise: a good surprise.
What do you do when you're waiting to hear from an editor or agent, and haven't? How long do you wait before saying something?
Editors and agents (if any are reading this)! Does it annoy you if authors email you asking? Can you remember any particularly annoying-- or UNannoying -- questions?
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
As I mentioned a couple of time earlier, I am the creator the 2013 Children's Book Week Bookmark. I can't tell even begin to tell you how excited I was when I was offered this opportunity. One of my life long pipe dreams is to be the illustrator of a Children's Book Week poster--this is pretty close!
So, I really wanted to do a good job on this. The Children's Book Week people asked that the bookmark include an activity of some kind-- other artists had made their bookmarks into door hangers, even paper dolls!
I racked my brain for a long time trying to think of something as creative. Paper fortune cookie instructions inspired by Fortune Cookie Fortunes? I didn't think it would work out of context (so many people don't realize that fortune cookies are not Chinese and the subtlety of Chinese-American pride might be lost in the misunderstanding). Origami inspired by Lissy's Friends? I thought that might be hard to follow. How to write the Chinese character for "Book" or "Read?" Maybe... but then at the dentist's office (had to get an old filling replaced!) I saw a Highlight's Magazine:
and remembered how I always loved their "hidden picture" features:
....and the light went on!
From there, I decided to create the bookmark hiding the letters R, E, A, D, I, N, G in the image. It was a lot of fun! Here's the sketch:
|can you see the letters?|
|adding the color in! Trying to make the letters not too obvious, but still not too hard to find.|
And then the bookmark was done! See what the finished thing looks like and download it FREE at the Children's Book Week website! Hope it makes you excited for Children's Book Week--I know I am!
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
One of the reasons we are moving is that we've outgrown the condo. What used to be the studio is now overrun with baby things--now I work in the living room.
This has become problematic because at night, when the baby is sleeping, I like to keep/start working and the Sasquatch wants to unwind by watching a movie. He likes to watch in the dark. I like to work in the light. After many nights of a well-exercised light switch, the Sasquatch came up with this solution:
Yes, it's a light for me to attach to my head!
But in the end, the head lamp was a bust (I do use it to sneak in to the room to cut the baby's fingernails, though). And the light negotiations continue. Can't wait until I get into the new studio!!
Saturday, February 16, 2013
I've made an annual visit to a local Wellesley school and it's always lovely (I hope I can continue to visit even after the move!). The students never fail to impress me with their beautiful storyboards of their favorite "small story" from Year of the Dog. This year, I was particularly touched by how many of them chose "Uncle Shin and the Special Cake."
That's because my Uncle Shuin, who is the Uncle Shin in the book (I thought that was the way to spell it when I was a child which is why I kept it that way in the book) passed away in August. Despite his greediness as a boy, he grew up to be a highly respected surgeon, a loving father and truly compassionate human being. Some might think that his naughty deeds as a child are the best way to remember him, but he also had a pretty good sense of humor. I think he'd be pretty amused to see his childhood mischief in cartoon form. I know I was.
Thanks so much, Wellesley students!
Thanks so much, Wellesley students!
Friday, February 15, 2013
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Friday, February 08, 2013
Almost by accident I read ANGELA's ASHES--a book I had never wanted to read because it sounded so depressing. But it was there and so was I, and once I started it, I couldn't stop (even though I started reading it after midnight at the end of a busy day).
His family had no money mainly because his father spent what wages he had in pubs, even drinking away all of the £5 his parents sent when a new baby was born. The children didn't have enough to eat. Three died.
Yet they laughed a lot. They talked well -- and wittily; read voraciously (under the street lamps sometimes); learned a lot in school; and had a closeness with each other few American siblings I've known ever achieve. They seemed to deal with the hardness of their lives with a cheerful stoicism -- and dreams of going to America, a dream Francis achieved by leaving school at 14, working, and saving his money. He left when he was 19.
From the later books I think he always missed Ireland. He was a public school teacher for 30 years (I'm now reading the third book in the trilogy, TEACHER MAN) -- he always WANTED to write, but didn't. He considered himself a failure. Then, when he retired, he wrote ANGELA'S ASHES.
I remember hearing when the book came out (does anyone know if this is true??) that he knew so many people from his evenings in NY bars that they helped him find an editor -- an editor who loved the ms. When the book was published, he was 66; and it sold FIVE MILLION copies.
But what probably pleased him just as much was what a good book it is -- not for everyone, maybe -- I know I'm a sucker for stories about children who survive tough times -- but even those who don't like it would, I think, admit that it's really well-written.
Sometimes being a writer can seem like an idiotic choice to make -- but it's something at which you CAN succeed at any age. It's not like being a baseball player or ballerina.....there is always a chance that one day you'll write something that is a huge success.
And I believe that all of us, no matter how we try not to and tell ourselves we're being unrealistic, cherish that hope. Otherwise, why would anyone do it?
I'm not saying that is THE motive -- there are others, including the sheer joy of it (at times). But that hope -- unrealistic as you know it is -- helps keep you writing, especially during the (many) "you'll just have to get through this" phases of finishing a novel.
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
So, now it was time for step two of Rain Dragon's sky ceiling. I wanted it to be clouds and blue sky during the day but I wanted it to be stars at night. I wanted the stars to be pretty realistic, those glow-in-the-dark star stickers just didn't seem right after all the work I did to make the clouds. So using the intergoogles I found this make your own planetarium kit and put it on my Christmas list:
|I choose Rain's Dragon's birthday as the time and date!|
I think the star theater was made for a bigger room because there was a fair amount of distortion. Also, it was impossible to dab the glow in the dark paint in a neat way and at first I was in a nervous panic that I was ruining my clouds.
But, surprisingly, it turned out great! The overall effect is actually rather magical, though you will have to take my word for it because none of the photos came out. Suffice to say it came out so well that I might do a star ceiling for my studio, too!