Must start with art today. Nature’s art.
Our back porch has a metal roof. The last two days have been warmer than usual and the thick blanket of snow on the roof has been slooooooowly sliding down. Then it refreezes. Next day it warms up, slooowly slides some more, and refreezes.
It is a frozen waterfall of snow that reminds me of the classic The Great Wave at Kanagaw by Katsushika Hokusai.
I am sure that by mid-afternoon the house will shake and there will be a rumble and the whole thing will slide off.
Speaking of freezing and thawing, thank you Jennifer for an extremely well-written review of Wintergirls!
Now back to our regularly scheduled questions.
You asked: What are your daily tasks as a writer?
Well, I write a lot, though not nearly as much as I’d like. I’ll take yesterday as an example. I started work at 6:45 am. Took a quick lunch break, several breaks to make tea, and a half hour off for dinner – for a total of say and hour and a quarter away from the work. With those exceptions, I was at my desk until about 9:30 pm.
What did I do there? The most important thing was fleshing out a chapter that’s been bugging me. A lot of things happen in this chapter, so I had to back up and double-check my sources to make sure I had the historical facts correct. I spent about eight hours on the chapter.
The rest of the time was spent on email: writing a historian about gaining access to some manuscript sources that are not available to the public, checking with the publicist about a small bit of writing she had me do for NPR, asking my agent about a foreign tax question, a half-dozen emails from librarians and teachers and another half-dozen from readers (who were not asking for homework help.) Oh, and I dealt with some needed doctor referrals. And I took some time out to blog, and do a quick social networking sweep, adding requested friends on Facebook and MySpace, etc.
What did I NOT do yesterday that I wanted to? I didn’t run. Didn’t go to the gym. Didn’t make a dent in the email. Didn’t take care of any of the fanmail that’s been piling up. Didn’t work on my taxes. Didn’t work on my presentation for the upcoming booktour. Didn’t work on the needed content for the website update. I’m pretty sure I didn’t brush my hair, either.
My “me time” was just before bed. I spent an hour drawing. I’ve been doing more of that lately. I have no aspirations to be an illustrator. Mostly I’ve been copying other people’s pictures. It’s surprisingly relaxing and a nice way to wind down after a long day. (I also snuck in a few pages of a biography I’m reading about Louisa May Alcott and her father – that was when I ate lunch.) I went to bed at 10:30pm, fretting about all of the stuff that I didn’t get finished.
But I have to say, when I was deep in that chapter, life was grand.
You wrote: Several times I’ve seen publishers asking for short stories, novels etc:
But trying to find out what number of words they mean can be difficult. What is your view of the various lengths?
My only concern about length is to make my stories as short and the writing as tight as I possibly can. But I understand your desire for some guidelines. I strongly suggest you check out the best website for information about publishing books for kids and teens, Information about Writing, Illustrating, and Publishing Children’s Books: The Purple Crayon. The site is maintained by former editor Harold Underdown, who wrote the Absolutely Necessary Book: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books (If you enlarge the cover image, you’ll see that I blurbed the book, which I rarely, rarely do.) Those two source will give you more specific information than I can.
Off to attack another chapter and wait for the snow wave to crash.