July 10, 2012-July 27, 2012

Well, there went the good intentions in all areas. Again. I meant to keep up better than this, though I have kept up doing my poem a day for a year and a half so far. But between writing and a social life (such as it is), working in the garden, major walks, keeping up with reading as well, there goes the neighborhood. Or the journal-hood.


That novel I was almost finished writing? Centaur Field. More good intentions undermined. I had a nagging, nagging bad feeling about it. Showed all but the last two chapters which weren’t yet written but vaguely outlined to my beta reader Debby and she hit me between the eyes with exactly the problems that had been nagging me but I was too bound up in finishing the book to listen to myself. So it’s back to square one (am up to chapter 10 now) and along the way I had to resurrect a major character I’d killed off in the first few pages, make him the center of attention and, eventually, the turning point for the solution of the plot. Lots of plot changes necessitated of course. AND I moved the entire thing back to the 1960s, with thalidomide babies, Beatles, Mr. Ed on tv and more. Why? Because my plot and its major secret made no sense in a world of the Internet, cell phones, the Cloud, where no secret can be kept.

In the meanwhile, I was also doing page proofs on B.U.G., copyedits on Jewish Fairy Tale Feasts, small revision stuff on end notes of Grumbles from the Forest, small edits on flap copy for several spring books, sending on requests to agents for a puppet show using The Witch Who Wasn’t, and a movie request for Except the Queen, trying to work out a list of possible illustrators for Thunder Underground. Worked with Heidi getting a first really good draft of First Day in Monster K for the illustrator. Got first copies of The Emily Sonnets (gorgeous), and pdfs of Rumbling Monsters, Tumbling Monsters. Also continuing small edits on Ekaterinoslav. Plus I wrote most of the talk I will be giving (a new talk called Soul Mates) in Duluth in October and began the death by a thousand cuts for the lecture I will be giving at St Andrews University.

How do I keep going? I find it all invigorating. And also because I believe this, which I wrote after reading something in Terri Windling’s wonderful blog, The Drawing Board:


Words Are Like Moles

Tunneling, always tunneling,

into the deep, the dark places,

the worm larders, the velvet night

where breath is moist and soft

and quiet is complete,

where there are no traces of light

until we poets hang the stars.


©2012  Jane Yolen. All rights reserved


And so I will continue to have the privilege and the chore of hanging stars to light the way for readers as long as I am able. And the hard work of it, too. Damn lights can be heavy, you know.



So what else did I do, besides dinners and teas with friends? Well, my friend Milbre Burch, magnificent storyteller, and her family were here for three (rainy) days, I visited the Wormiston House gardens for tea with friend Christine. Janie Douglas and two of her best friends and I did a big circuit at Cambo House. Went to a concert with cello (friend Claire playing), soprano, and organist at St Salvator’s chapel. Saw a couple of movies alone, and “Chariots of Fire” on the big screen with Nora. Went to the Friday night opening at the Pittenweem arts festival with Christine. And today–between sun and showers–watched an outdoor dance concert in which four people–two couples, one a man in a wheelchair who clearly did not have the use of his legs, dance a moving piece about love in its many manifestations in the small square between the town library and the church in St Andrews.

And boy! Are my wings tired!

June 29-July 9, 2012:

All good intentions washed away by the constant rain. According to the Met Office, this is Scotland’s rainiest summer since they started keeping accounts of it. Though I must say, it’s sunny out there right now though I am inside, once again felled by laryngitis.  But more of that anon.


Stuff in General:

I have been a very busy lady. Lots of visitors, and going places with friends. To the garden scheme at Balcaski House with friend Christine, for example. Even in the rain the garden  is gorgeous, elegant. An interesting house. A delightful young laird who came out and answered questions. Afterwards we went through the garden at Kelly Castle, my favorite. I bought flowers to plant at both places.

Later on the weekend, I had tea with friends Janie and Pam in the garden at Rufflets Country House. We were the only ones sitting outside because–yep–it was pouring rain. But we were under a great big garden umbrella and so had the place to ourselves.

The next morning a photographer came from Edinburgh to do in-depth photographs of the house for a book by Yale University Press on the Scottish Arts&Crafts movement. I thought it would be an hour at most,  but he was here for four hours and, since it was raining and he still needs a good outside photo or five, he will be back.

End of the week, Kathrine Langrish, a wonderful fantasy writer from Oxford, and her husband David, plus Lisa Tuttle (coming over from near Glasgow) arrived for a a couple of overnights. We walked into town for dinner. The next day was the third annual Wayside Luncheon for YA Fantasy Writers and, yes, it was bucketing down all day long. Debby and Bob Harris, Elizabeth Wein, Elizabeth Kerner, AnnMarie Allen were all in attendance. Two more who were supposed to come were both felled by illnesses–Caroline Clough and Alex Nye. By evening I had NO voice left from all the passionate gabbing. And now, a day and a half later, it is still full-blown laryngitis.


I finished draft (oh, I don’t know) 7 or 8 of an odd retelling of an urban Red Riding Hood. Probably a short story, possibly something else. And a Wizard of Oz story in which Dorothy, whirled away by the cyclone, joins a circus in Missouri, second full draft down and probably a couple of strong revisions to go.

Rebecca Dotlich and I finished an on-spec picture book called The Mouse Poet which we have sent on to our agent.

I went over 7 different updated versions of the Ekaterinoslav poems in book format. It looks lovely ith archival (and family) photographs. I kept finding things I wanted to change, driving my usually calm editor Jim Perlman quite mad.

Wrote a new poem for Thunder Underground, which I had thought entirely done. Editor loved it, but that necessitated about ten backs and forths as well.

I wrote a number of poems for Terri Windling’s blog on writing and the artist’s life. Here is one of them:

A Visit to the Inquisitor

Yes, he knows the questions,

but he does not know the answers.

His brain knocks, nudges, puzzles,

does not let him sleep at night.

Not knowing is a pebble in the shoe,

that never ceases to annoy

even when the sock is stripped away.

Whatever answers I give him

breathed out in a forced breath

are not enough. He does not trust them.

He is mad with the dark pathways

that I dance down so easily,

If he is cruel with me,

he is crueler with himself.

I forgive him in the end.

I know where I am going,

the answers in my pocket,

the fork ahead a treasure.

It is all about the road.

©2012 The Drawing Board


Tomorrow I return to Centaur Field and try to finish it by week’s end. Wish me luck, and kiss me, Hardy. Tis a far,, far better thing, etc.





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