September 12-September 24, 2013:

The thing about writing is that sometimes I can push it–a deadline helps or waking up with a line or plot-line in my head. But most of the time I am an instinctual writer who works best with my fingers on the keyboard, letting the stories or poems leak out of the fingertips. I am not a careful thinker who dots all the i’s and crosses all the t’s before beginning. In my husband’s wonderful phrase, “I show up.” I am where I need to be so that the Muse can find me.

Usually that means sitting in the tv room with the laptop, a cup of tea cooling nearby. Or on a train with three hours to gleefully fill. (Or eight hours, when I trained back from Devon this summer. Oh my! I got a lot of things going then!)

So these last almost two weeks, between jetlag, a fall at the Eric Carle Museum that bruised me a bit but shook me even more, and a lot of travel by car and catch-up on mail etc., I did very little writing. Some poems, some chapters with Adam on Professor of Odds, and that’s about it.

More specifically, I gave a birthday luncheon (cooking it all) for friend Christine and seven of her friends/including her husband and me. I spent two days traveling to Edinburgh and then home to the US by plane. I went to a writer’s meeting, dinner with friends, dinner at my daughter’s house, visited  a friend recovering from a small operation, read two Emily Dickinson poems in the Dickinson marathon, fell down at the Eric Carle Museum, drove to Stamford and then New York with daughter Heidi for the Brooklyn Book Festival where I was on a panel and then an autographing, on a local radio show with Heidi, hosted my travel writer cousin Malerie Yolen-Cohen as she did some of her travel writing about Amherst. Lots of busy-ness but not a lot of writing or reading (though am satisfyingly tucked into Emma Bull’s novel  Territory for the nonce.

Here’s a poem since I can’t offer much more in the way of journal.  Terri W posted a photograph of Henri Matisse and his cat, Miouche. The rest comes from my imagination.

 

Miouche

There was always light in the studio
and a little cat chasing the sun
across the floor with velvet paws.
Among the wild beasts, the Fauves,
only the cat knew the true colors
of a rose, a hat, a woman’s fierce eyes.
The green in the paint pot was no match                                                                                                                                                                                                            for the springy grass underfoot,                                                                                                                                                                                                                           the blue too understated for the                                                                                                                                                                                                                      shifting French skies, and the red                                                                                                                                                                                                                          too thin for a mouse’s blood

or the smell of death
in the early morning.

 

 

©2013 Jane Yolen all right reserved

 

 

August 29-September 11, 2013:

A busy busy busy bunch of days.

Along with the writing, I had visitors (hi, Kathy!), dinners at friends’ houses (hi, Christine and Toby! hi Debby and Bob!), lunch with the head of STanza, St Andrews Poetry Festival (hi, Eleanor!) as well as tea and natter with my poetry editor in Strathkinness (hi, JPP!). I had a gorgeous afternoon tea at Rufflets (hi, Janie!). I also had three wonderful days up in Aberdeenshire going to open studios (hi, Mike and Susan!) as well as a long trip up further north with mine hosts to see Helen Denerly’s glorious sculpture show. Plus I have been doing a small course/workshop on ceramics decoration (hi, Joss!) though I am rubbish at it. And today been prepping for a big birthday party luncheon I am giving for the other (first) Christine tomorrow. Plus I’ve been doing early packing and packing up since on Sunday I’m awa’ first to friends near Edinburgh (thanks Debby for driving! hi, Elizabeth and Steven!) before taking a plane on Monday morning home. Well, two planes actually. And then two trains.

But what about this writing thing, I hear you ask. Well, that, too. Lots of poems. Like this one, which my subscribers seemed to like a lot:

 

Prayer for a Friend

Be granite like the hills,

letting rain and wind buffet you

but standing straight into the storm.

 

Be porous like the clouds,

letting birds wing through you,

nourishing rain fall from your eyes.

 

Be arrow-straight like the pine trees,

green hands raised in exaltation

into blue skies, grey skies, night.

 

Be bright like the moon, shining

even when clouds overtake you,

even when the dark side shows.

 

Be gentle like the wren, tit, dove

on your own nest, in your own season,

with your own counsel.

 

Be giving like the moss,

couching feet that would tread,

holding them up instead.

 

Be in the world and of it,

Not below it or above it.

 

–for Terri

©2013 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

 

And fifteen other poems for the subscribers as well. Also Adam and I have been scribbling back and forth furiously and (we think) have only four more chapters to finish book two of The Seelie Wars Trilogy which, for now, is called The Professor of Odds. I have put together the extra poems from which editor

JPP will chose 5-7 for each of three sections (Maiden, Mother, Crone) of a book to be called Triad. I have done private editing for a friend on four of his picture books, an easy reader, and the proposal for a middle grade book. Did some work on Book 1 of the graphic novel trilogy Stone Cold am doing with Adam. Titivated the ballet picture book The Day I Became A Swan and sent it to my agent. Had a picture book rejected, and it’s on to the next for that one. Wrote the first two (replacement) chapters for House of Candy and rewrote the other two to become chapters three and four, and feel the opening works much better now. (I hate long flashbacks in children’s books.)

So there you have it. Life, a bit of liberty and touring, and writing as the pursuit of my happiness.

Home to Massachusetts in five days. I have been dreaming of being there, dreading getting there. Nothing new about that.

 

 

 

 

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