Children’s Book Publishing

First, “we” (the royal “we”, I guess) got mentioned at CNN. Pretty cool, even if they didn’t quote me directly (mouthing ‘call me’ to Anderson Cooper. Yeah, yeah, I know what team he’s on. Still.)

I was on fire to write my post this morning, and I’m going to stick with my topic even if it is later and I’m TIRED gosh I’m tired; tried to nap around 5p but it did nothing to revive me. Probably thanks to my son driving his Batman car around the house. Yes, the one with the tire-squealing sound effects.

Here’s a fact you’ll learn about me around 10 minutes into meeting me, because if you ask me what I “do” I’m most likely to tell you what I “did.” I worked at a small publishing house, as a jack-of-all-trades “Associate Editor” for 4 1/2 years. Well, 2 1/2 full-time, and 2 part-time after my daughter was born. That was also right around the time the company was “traded,” to use a sports analogy (since we also did sports books), then bought out AGAIN by an even larger corporate entity less than a year later. The company went from being a small, family-run place (and not very well run, since the owner readily admitted to not being much of a “reader” — see Sports Books, above) to an international conglomerate, and all the perks like flex time and human decency (I’m looking at you, former Senior Editor who-really-doesn’t-like-titles, EYEROLL) went out the door with the owners.

The company is still limping along in some sort of boxed-in corporate tower (they moved from the quaint offices they had in a small-town above-the-storefront space two years ago), down to 3 in-office workers and an equal amount of work-from-home-in-another-state masterminds who are probably the real ones keeping the pacemaker working.

Anyway, I didn’t want to talk about my bitterness over my last “real” job (don’t get me on the SAHM soapbox) since it’s all water under the bridge now. I’m glad I was home in my children’s formative years, and truthfully, I don’t think I’d have been able to have my son while working. I am much more relaxed, laidback, “Zen” about lif,e and working for The Man no longer appeals to me.

But I learned some interesting things along the way, and I will share them with you in another post tomorrow morning, after my morning coffee kicks in. Hope that’s not too much of a cliffhanger.

Share something that makes you smile

One thing I do each night with my kids is ask them, “What was your favorite part of the day?” The original suggestion, by a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) mentor mom I used to work with, was, “What made you smile today?” but being the editor that I am, I made my own nightly quiz question. Because sometimes your favorite part of the day didn’t necessarily make you smile; maybe it made you sigh with contentment, run with joy, or simply laugh out loud.

But in regards to a Daily Post suggested topic (I’m just going to keep going with these, until I make time to write in the morning, just after my coffee, before my youngest wakes up…today, I went back to bed after getting my older child off to the bus at 7 (!) a.m.), some things that made me smile today were:

The smell of our Christmas tree when I lean over to plug in the lights (yes, ours is still up).
Cuddling with my kids.
Chatting on the phone with my mom.
My husband thanking me for making dinner.
Pulling out cardstock in anticipation of my girls’ weekend, putting together page sets (I. Love. Color.)
Listening to the Moulin Rouge soundtrack and finding myself singing along.
Posting on facebook about my dropped (!) iPod Touch (cracked the glass cover pretty severely) and having a dozen people respond with sympathy and suggestions on getting it fixed.

Simple things, really. Nothing to do with writing, already…except that I got something written.

What’s the single most important thing you accomplished in 2010?

I’m drawing a blank today (not really, more on that in a sec) so I’ll answer the Daily Post suggested topic for today.

The most important thing I accomplished was writing in my daily journal. More to the point, writing down my gratitudes each day. So, you see, I CAN write everyday (okay, well…here & there I’d have to play catch-up, but never more than a week at a time, and even then that only happened once…or twice…but who’s counting?)

Another important accomplishment tied to putting my thanks in writing was finally reading my way through Simple Abundance (yes, 15 years late…). A lot of her lessons reminded me of things one of my favorite scrapbook artists/teachers, Ali Edwards, is always preaching…things like “it is okay,” “embrace imperfections,” being authentic, etc.

In honor of this latter accomplishment, I have chosen my One Little Word  for 2011. In 2009 I sort of chose “nurture,” meaning to  take care of myself, but small children and new gardens will get in the way, so I never followed through to the extent that Ali’s disciples usually do. My word(s) for 2010 might as well have been gratitude, simplicity, order, harmony, beauty, and joy — straight from Breathnach’s book.

I don’t know that I will follow through with my word this year, either, but I have at least chosen my word (or, as the disciples say, it chose me🙂 FOCUS. Something this entry could have used a little more of. But hey, it’s only January 3rd.

Love the Question

And that would be, Am I Really A Writer?

I have a lot of excuses *not* to be. I wasn’t encouraged as a youngster (in fact, I was strongly – and strangely – discouraged).

I was too sheltered to seek out the truth (even now I have a hard time seeing the big picture).

My juvenenalia was tossed out when I was 12 as punishment for hiding a bad report card (“daydreaming” was blamed for my poor grades…see my first excuse, above).

I had a vicious critic in my eldest brother, the one with Asperger’s, for whom NOTHING was good enough, and everything was laughed at for being “stupid” (no one was allowed to be smarter than him. It was all he had).

I spent *years* not writing…not exercising that muscle. It still feels flabby, despite years of keeping a daily diary and “online journaling”/blogging (intermittently) for the past 12 (!) years.

I still fear the criticism (firmly ingrained in my inner voice) and feel the Imposter Syndrome when I sit down to write. It freezes me at times (most of the time, actually). I need kind editors. I have become the sort of writer I hated working with when I was an editor at a publishing house, the needy kind who wanted constant encouragement, to whom every word was a precious baby that they couldn’t DREAM of cutting out of their beloved manuscript.

But for me, I primarily need to WRITE. To sit down on a daily basis and get the fiction in my head out on paper. I need solitude, which will be coming soon, when all my children are in school. In the meantime, I will keep checking in here and sharing my thoughts on writing as I live them.

And there is my final fear: that I’m not really a writer, because I don’t have The Fire to write. Maybe I have to write to find the fire. Maybe The Fire is just a myth?

Simple Abundance

I’m debating whether or not to re-read this book in 2011. I have an artsy friend who started an ATC (Artist Trading Card)-a day project with this book, and I am pondering that idea to guide me through the book again.

I received the Cinch (scrapbooker’s bookbinding machine) for Christmas, and I am also mulling over a more artsy daily diary format, which I could then bind together at the end of each month. Perhaps I could include some of the 365 Hipstamatic photos I started taking on Christmas day.

Then there’s running, which I started in July (completed 3 one-mile runs by December 2010; in August, October, and December) and would like to get back to. I’d like to finish at least one 5K this year.

Then there’s writing, which, while I’m leaning toward a daily art journal, needs to be attended to again on a daily basis. Daily post inspiration from right here at WordPress will help.

And so the new year begins.

If vacations lasted forever, they would cease being vacations. Right?

Blame it on my recent trip to Venice, Florida. Despite staying in an efficiency with a kitchenette, with the express request that I figure out meals to save us money, I still managed to re-energize myself to the point that I lit a fire under my writing dreams — again. This happened last June, driving down to Franklin, Tennessee, for a scrapbooking weekend. Nine hours by myself in a car, iPod fully loaded with inspirational tunes for my novel. Came home and wrote a detailed outline, with the help of R. Karl Largent and his brief but excellent How to Write and Sell Your Novel, which I picked up at the Ann Arbor Friends of the Library book sale for $2.

This time around, it was Carolyn See and her brilliant book on Making the Literary Life, which I found at the Sand Dollar Bookstore on Miami Avenue in Venice. I hadn’t planned on reading (or knitting) this vacation (see kitchenette, above); my husband threw in Ironside (which I was reading before we left) but it was too dark to be a frothy beach read. I surprised myself by consuming See’s book in just a couple of days instead.

The best advice this time around was her 1,000 words a day rule. Not 1,000 words of rambling, self-pitying navel gazing, but of fiction (preferably, or whatever topic you were writing about…not a journal entry, in other words). Four pages by the handwritten route. Easy enough, and I managed it just fine for 5 days (you take weekends off). Then I did a sixth day, then…I stopped.

One of the things I am discovering that I need is solitude. That is practically impossible with a 3 year-old around. Notice I said practically. I could certainly try around 10a every day, when Jungle Junction is on (his must-see TV). Of course, that is usually when I (finally) jump in the shower. But a shower only takes me about 15 minutes, and my son watches TV for a good hour, hour and a half some mornings. One thousand words can take me anywhere from a half hour (my speed record, and BTW, I loved what I wrote under pressure that day) to a full hour. That’s it! Doesn’t seem right, does it?

I find once I decide what scene I am going to focus on that day, I dive in and don’t look up. But that, for me, takes solitude. I understand why J.K. Rowling wrote in a coffeeshop (well, I am blessed with heat, which she wasn’t at the time, but she was bless with a daughter who napped, and both of my children stopped napping when they were two!) I love my coffeeshop, and yes, it offers solitude.

Here’s another interesting fact I learned about myself in this brief process: I can write any time of day. I always thought I’d do my best work in the morning (I still might, once my son is off to school daily), but it turns out I can write when he is in afternoon preschool (coffee helps).

Now I just need to get back to my 1,000 words a day. Next week is Easter break, so the kids will be around all. day. Here’s to hoping I can find my focus again and get back to my novel. I’ll consider it a mini-vacation from daily routine.