September 28-29, 2012:

Two days filled with writing, reading, movies, and more writing.

I have continued my poem a day, though on Sunday I actually worked on three poems occasioned by some lines in the new (and brilliant) Hilary Mantel novel about Thomas Cromwell, Bring Up the Dead. My God, the woman can write–lyrically, intelligently, compellingly. I am not only learning much about Henry VIII’s England, about the culture and mind set of the time, but enormous amounts about the look and smell of the place.

I also worked on my new piece for the National Geographic book the children and I are doing, this one, about Balto who was lead dog for the final dogsled team into Nome in 1925 with the diphtheria serum  that saved the lives of the sick children of the town. Then did a couple of re-drafts, trying to get it down near the 850 word count.

Movie Bob and I went to see “Loopers,” a noir sf picture that worked brilliantly for 9/10 of the time but fell down in the final looped ending which raised questions that shattered (for me, at least) the time travel elements of the film. We both would have preferred going to see “The Master” but it wasn’t playing in the area.

Sunday, Heidi and I went off to the Conway, MA.  Autumn Festival to sign books along with Jeff Mack, Holly Hobby, and others. We did very well indeed, and the forecasted rain held off until fifteen minutes before the end of the signing times. We’d stayed into the second time frame–we were to sign from 11-1 (1 was when all the weather forecasts said there would be rain) and at 2:45 when we were already packing up, down it came. So all was copacetic. A lot of old friends from our days living in Conway (Heidi and Adam were both born there) stopped by to visit. At home, I watched the lovely (though a bit sappily romantic) “Exotic Marigold Hotel” movie on the tv, but it was just right for my mood.

 

And so to bed. . .hoping for some good news this week bookwise.

 

 

August 24-September 28, 2012

Another month shot by, mostly because of work and travel. So that’s what I want to talk about.

First travel:

On September 15, I flew from Edinburgh to Newark on what must have been the easiest flight of my life. There was not a bump or bounce in the entire trip. I read, watched two (forgettable) movies, got through customs in record time, caught the early train I’d hoped for to New Haven, crossed the platform and there was the train to Springfield waiting for us. It came in on time, Heidi was waiting for me, and I got home where I promptly crashed. But the crash was expected. Jetlag took two days. If all my travels were that easy, I would never worry or panic ahead of time.

My last days in Scotland were a dance round of dates. Friends came to visit, my dear poetry editor Jim Perlman and his terrific wife stayed for several days (and we did the the Royal Mile in Edinburgh in the teeth of a huge downpour). I went to the theater with friend Claire (which was, alas, a huge disappointment–the performance, not Claire who as always a joy to be with). Watched a couple of movies with Debby and Bob–“Thor” and “Captain America.” We laughed, we cheered. We parked our brains at the door and enjoyed. Went to see a fun performance of “Pirates of Penzance” with Janie Douglas. Had an Edwardian Afternoon Tea at an Edwardian manor house with Elaine and Ann. Dinner at Vanessa’s. Lunch with Marianna. Held a birthday party with presents and poems for Christine. Went to see “Dredd”with Nora and we both agreed to leave because it was vastly too unrelievedly bloody and boorish for us. Etc. The last two weeks were wild! But it is always thus.

And then I was home in Massachusetts, into the maelstrom of a huge plumbing disaster that had been ably handled by Heidi but at such a cost–a truly astronomical cost–that I had to have meetings with town offiicials and insurance investigators and my bank manager and it’s not over yet.

And of course into the even larger maelstrom of the political season which I’d managed to avoid more or less by being in Scotland with a tv that didn’t work.

In the first two weeks I went to a concert by my sometimes-collaborator Jerry Noble at Smith College which was a lot of fun, ran a writers’ meeting at my house, had tea with neighbors Forest and Amy, a drop-over visit with neighbors Nina and Annie Dayton, another such visit with neighbors Jan and Don, went to a farewell party for a friend who was moving to Minneapolis, an illustrator’s meeting, dinner with friends Bob and Mira one night in Amherst–we talked up a storm–and another dinner with Bob and neighbors which was supposed to end with a movie but a storm brought tree branches down onto wires and a section of the town went dark. Their section. My house was just fine.

Most of the rest of my time was concerned with doctors appointments–nothing life-threatening, but a lot of annoyances and disagnoses and tests. Gave a LOT of blood, and. . .um. . .other bodily fluids. And worst of all, the dentist found two cavities which will have to be filled next week.

 

Writing:

Well, yes, I did a lot of writing as well. A poem a day continued. I worked on rewriting the speech for Duluth, finishing the first draft of the Andrew Lang speech for St Andrews University. Both speeches running well over 40 pages, so a lot of prose there. I also rewrote and added to (and thought through some characters) for the first chapter and a bit of the second for the next Seelie Wars book and sent it off to Adam.

I wrote a sample piece on “The Elephant Whisperer” for a book the kids and I are writing for National Geographic, which the editor said moved the art director to tears (a good thing) and so we have a prototype now for the other pieces which the kids and I are writing. I have already started my next piece, on Balto and the other dogs who brought the serum from Anchorage to Nome through a winter blizzard in 1925.

And I surprised myself with a revision of a picture book called Doggie Dreams that enlarged the story and gave it a whole new feel.

Ah yes, and I got several rejections from the same editor, only one of which surprised and hurt.

 

I will not promise I will do better this next month. I am into Book Tour season and things might get a bit worse. But I will try.

 

 

 

 

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