May 16-May 22, 2011:

This will be my last post Stateside until October. The next time I post will be from Scotland. So a quick summary and some thoughts about living on two continents:

I began the week with two parties–one for my friend Bob Marstall’s 65th birthday. We had a potluck at Diane de Groat’s house (though Diane was in Europe and just lent the premises for the celebration.) Then a party at Ellen W’s house to celebrate Barbara Diamond Goldin’s MLS degree. Though Barbara had been a working librarian for ten years, she didn’t have the actual degree until now. Both lovely times with dear friends, a lot of laughter, gossip, trade talk, and serious consideration of books.

I took a train in for my final trip of the spring to New York City, stayed with a dear friend, went to the Cloisters, the New York City Ballet, and had a fab dinner at a village eatery called “One If By Land”. Also saw my agent (she was looking stunning as always) and three editors at S&S.

Came home to house guests, sf writer Steve Gould (another old friend) and his darling daughter Emma who will be starting Smith come the fall. We ate, talked, (and talked shop) and did some serious touring of Smith as well.

Then I began to pack. And pack. And pack. Getting ready for 4 1/2 months in Scotland.

And that’s what I want to talk about. How being a writer on two sides of the Atlantic has some up-sides and some downs.

The ups include: afternoon tea, wonderful friends with accents, castles, cathedral ruins, heather on the hills, days out in Edinburgh, live music and lively theater, lots of art, Pictish stones rainbows, the haar, dinners with friends, caboc cheese, sheep in meadows, boat trips to the Isle of May, amazing gardens.

The downside is that 1. I have two separate wardrobes and can never remember which is where and 2. two separate shelves of research books, ditto. The wardrobe is a blessing actually, because it means I don’t get tired of the same old same old. But the books are a different problem. Often the very book or books I want/need for a project are somewhere else. I had to have my P.A. ship over all my Emily Dickinson bio stuff when I was working on a story about her in Scotland. And granted, the story–“Sister Emily’s Lightship”–won a Nebula and has been reprinted in several places, but what I was paid for the story, including the reprints, doesn’t come close to the cost of shipping the books over and back. Not that such a balance is ever included in the decision to write a story, but it is there on the bottom line nonetheless.

So packing for my trip is tricky business. What clothes do I take over to leave there, and which will doubtless come back–that’s an easy decision since for the last seventeen years I’ve taken over very little. I leave a good number of things there at the house. Though it’s a bit tougher this time since I’ve lost 45 pounds. But the books. . .I sent over three boxes at a cost of $300 plus, and will probably ship most of them back again. It’s built into the cost of working somewhere far away. But the cost in dollars does not–and can not–include how much actual work I get done there, in my lovely, quiet, sanctuary/fortress Wayside.

April 26-May 15, 2011:

I have truly been too busy to post on this journal. All forgivenesses gratefully accepted.

Travel: Orlando Fla, South Carolina for an early birthday with the twins and Jason/Joanne, Brimfield CT for the antiques fair, Fitchburg MA for the New England SCBWI conference,

Speeches: Orlando area Holocaust speech, Carle Museum for a panel, SCBWI keynote speech/panel/minor history of NESCBWI presentation, Hatfield Elementary Writing Contest. two interviews one by Skype, one by phone.

Dinners/lunches: Jody Shapiro, Bob Marstall, Jan Grenzke & Co,

Two writers’ group meetings.

One house guest.

Oh and I worked some more on the poems for EKATERINISLAV and am almost done with a full first draft, had three rejections, two for children’s poetry books, and one for a novel proposal.

Oh yes–and a Holocaust novel (proposal) sold:  HOUSE OF CANDY to Philomel.

Busy, busy, busy.

Interstitial Moment:

I can truly say that I always learn something new at a conference. Sometimes I find out about the impact my books have had on children’s lives. Call these Satisfaction Moments. Sometimes I learn that a book of mine has been a stumbling block to a reader. Call these Reality Check Moments. Sometimes I am forced to face the fact that I am truly old and out of things. Let’s say these are Twitter Moments. And sometimes I learn something useful about an editor’s taste, a reviewer’s choice, another author’s process, an illustrator’s needs, etc. Call these Growth Moments.

This year’s New England SCBWI conference (which I began nearly 40 years ago) has been such a conference.

 

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