Interstitial Moment

I posted this on FaceBook and on another group, but thought I should also post this here.

A Writer’s New Year’s Resolutions:

1. Take more time to read other folks books.

2. Resist blurbing.

3. Find a couple more beta readers.

4. Stay in touch with editors better.

5. Keep better records and not just rely on my agent, or keep bothering her for non-essentials like that.

6. Go ruthlessly through my bookshelves and get rid of anything not necessary.

7. Breathe.

8. Take an actual vacation.

9. Let the plots sort themselves out.

10. Remember to trust the lizard brain.

December 24-28, 2010

Publishing, like much of the US, is closed for the holidays which means little to report. Though Rebecca Kai Dotlich did contact me by FaceBook to say that finally–FINALLY–the contract for our co-authored book of fairy tale poems, Grumbles from the Forest, landed on her desk the day before Christmas. She will sign it and I will get it some time this week to sign and send back.

Other book news? Some nice reviews, some lovely letters, some books from publishers as Christmas gifts, and as wee David still believes in Santa, we had stockings hung by the menorah with care.

I did more work on  BUG and passed on the first eight chapters (down from ten) to Adam.

Adam&Co went to visit Boston relatives (Betsy’s aunt and uncle and cousins) in the teeth of the Noreaster, and ended up stranded near Boston. But they made it home the next day, in time to do the first round of packing. They left the next day and got home easily. Hartford had snow but was not hit with the brunt of it, like New York or Boston.

I went to see “The King’s Speech” with friends Bob, Wayne, and Lesley. It was incredibly wonderful. We made it home in the storm. Western Mass got only a small–about 4-6 inches, so nothing that would faze a New England driver.

I finished reading Wolf Hall, which has high-jumped onto my all-time fav list. Hilary Mantel is an amazing writer. Have begun reading another favorite writer of mine, Grahame Joyce. Oh yes, they have something in common. Both British writers!

And now it is incredibly quiet around here.The fridge has been emptied (ie given to Heidi) of stuff I will not eat.I am now trying juicing vegetables and fruits together for a power drink like the kind I used to make for David when he couldn’t eat much of anything because of chemo and/or radiation. I am back to my good diet instead of all that holiday food.

I hope to do some writing as well. Well, after I finish my end of the BUG revision, that is.

Here’s a poem for my readers:

Only the Women Can Hear

And this is no country for old women.

The internet chats, the movies, songs,

all sing of youth and time. Forgotten,

challenged by gravity, by memory, we long

for the past, though it is long past time when

we can recall the splendors that once rang

through us like Old Tom’s mighty knell.

We are in some strange notion of Hell.

How did we get here? Step by step

along the unforgiving path of time.

How do we leave here? Stop by stop,

along the train’s slip line, become

childish, childlike. inelegant, inept,

back to the beginning, back to the womb,

to the heartbeat, blood beat in the ear

that only the fetus and the women can hear.

©Jane Yolen 2010 all rights reserved

December 18-23, 2010:

No snow, lots of visitors, guests, books, a rejection letter, stuff.

First of all, my son Adam and his family arrived on the 17th and from then on we have had nonstop rounds of eating too much, playing games with (and without the kids, watching DVDs of kid-friendly movies (Shrek 3, Toy Story 3, Despicable Me, Up, etc.), conversations both deep and funny with a side order of snark laced with anarchy. And multiple trips to the grocery store, toy store, etc.

Adam and I took time to go over ideas for the latest revision of BUG, the golem novel. And I have already started my end of it. I revised A Bear Sat On My Porch Today picture book in line with some of the editors suggestions. Been revising some of Last Dragon graphic novel, now that almost all (two more pages to go) of the art is in. Wrote a half dozen more re-tellings of folk tales for Wee Tales.

And I got a rejection.

Also Adam and I inched closer to the possible sale of a trilogy. More on that if it happens.

December 17, 2010:

This is a pause between big posts, as the Clan gathers.

Friend Crescent Dragonwagon, writer and humanist supreme, stopped by for an overnight and for a deep and oft hilarious conversation. Then son Adam & Co arrived very late (plane an hour late leaving Minneapolis, so they got here at 1:30 a.m.) for a ten day visit for the holidays. Hard to know when I will get back to the journal.

Bits of writing, none of it good or good enough to mention. Lots of holiday cards. Lots of ho-ho-ho cheer. The Christmas bird count. Fun and games and drinks with neighbors. The usual.

So I will instead leave you with two recent poems:

Annual Children’s Illustration Show: Michelson’s Gallery 2010

I envy artists the tools of their trade,

so full of color, bristle, tooth.

They live through their eyes.

A piece of white paper is saturated with life:

each line telling a story.

An arc for them, like a tree limb, carries weight.

They place a dot on the page;

it becomes an eye, falling rain,

the buttress of a tiny bridge,

the start of a new life.

Perspective bends.

A spot of red signifies

dusk, dawn, a riding hood,

trillium by a darkling river,

the bursting of a vein.

All I have is words.

Some day that may be enough.

© 2010 Jane Yolen

Shadowrama x 4

This shadow

lifting from a branch,

a shadow

of a branch,

into the shadow-filled sky

reminds me of you.

This full moon,

caught in the tree’s arms,

the dead tree,

roost for owls,

knocking place for woodpeckers,

reminds me of you.

Each small thing,

in nature’s cupboard,

each shadow,

and each shade

of feather, fur, leafmeal, mold

reminds me of you

who is now

tree, moon, owl, sky, wing,

shadow, ash,


as insubstantial as air,

as necessary.

©2010  Jane Yolen

December 8-16, 2010:

I was absolutely floating on a writing cloud for a while. Much had to do with being down at son Jason’s house and he and I worked feverishly for 2 1/2 days working on two book proposals for the two of us;and then I showed him how to sketch out a 48 page nonfiction project, storyboarding it. I also worked on writing the proposal for graphic novel  3 of the Foiled books, tentatively titled En Garde. All three proposals are at the agent. And I edited down Jason and Joanne’s picture book called The Great Sand Dollar Hunt.

I also worked on several poems. Read many chapters of Wolf’s Hall. (There are many chapters more to go, and am loving it. Her writing just sinks into my bones.) Did some responses to two small and different copyedits of books ( Bad Girls and Waking Dragons.)

Along the way, I had a marvelous visit. It’s not just my grandmotherly duty to wax poetic over grandlings. The twins are adorable, funny, smart, and well-behaved without being smarmy about it. They are wonderful little sponges, drinking in the world. I read them the entire The Thirteen Clocks by James Thurber, one of my favorite books as a child and now one of theirs. We spent the rest of the visit talking about being split from our guggles to our zatches. And if you haven’t read the book, not only are you missing an enormous treat–but you are missing the allusion.

It was, however, terrifically cold (in the 20s and 30’s) for South Carolina so we did little of the planned southern things, no going out on the boat or long walks along the waterfront. It was rainy, windy, and cold. We stayed in the house or car.Or in lovely restaurants such as “The Fat Hen”.

And when I came home, it was in time for the opening of the Eric Carle Museum show called “Partners of Wonder” in which illustrations from my private collection of  pictures from my books were in the middle gallery and we had a small, intimate opening where I did a gallery talk and walkabout. People seemed to enjoy it, and the illustrators group gave me a dozen red roses which now have pride of place on my kitchen table.

November 29-December 7, 2010:

If you want to now what writing I have been working on the most, it has been Wee Tales, the retelling of fairy tales for the youngest listeners. I now have first (well in some cases second) drafts of some 17 stories, with about 13 more to go. As this is due at the end of the month, you can tell I am scrambling. (The editor held this one up, not me.) I can do about two a day. . .when I am not running around to meetings, speeches, etc. But my days are pretty packed, and so it has been a much more difficult writing time than I wanted it to be.

I also finished the Thirty Poems in Thirty Days project, raising money for The Center for New Americans in Northampton, Mass, and I have raised close to (I think) $2,000 from pledges by people who wanted to see my poems each day, which I sent out by email. I may have 3-5 good enough poems for working on further. Not a bad average, I’d say.

But work on The Thirteenth Fey has stopped entirely until I can see daylight with the Wee Tales project. And do the revision with Adam on BUG. Though I did take time out to tidy up the three chapters and proposal Heidi and I had worked on for Ghoul School and sent that out. And at one dinner where my friend Burleigh wrote the wrong dinner date on her calendar and I was left waiting in the restaurant alone, I began thinking about the third Foiled book. I may have (though not written-down yet) the first pages and the idea for the proposal. It is to be called Engarde!

But even I cannot write five major books at the same time.

I also received several (very minor but nice) awards: besides the National Outdoor Book Award Honor to Jason and me for An Egret’s Day reported earlier here, I heard that Switching on the Moon was  listed both on the Toronto Globe & Mail Best Books list, and was on the Gold Oppenheim Toy Book Award list. All Star was also a gold Oppenheim. And Elsie’s Bird was on Betsy Bird’s (no relative) Fuse # 8 list for Best Books. As I said to an editor friend, what’s a month without an award?

And if you want to hear the national NPR interview with me, go to Kids Author Jane Yolen Never Too Old For Comics : NPR

I also did three local signings, writers’ meetings, a poetry reading, saw one movie with friend Bob “Ghostwriter” (which I had mixed feelings about), had a number of dinners out with other friends. And the usual stuff any life has to encounter: grocery shopping, clothes shopping, holiday shopping etc.

I expect the next few weeks will be equally fraught.



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