January 1-7, 2011:

I wonder when I will write 2011 without having to think about it? Probably some time in March. So far I have only damaged two autographs for books, one check, and had to redo the above header. I expect there will be more. The new year invigorates some people. They are looking ahead to huge changes they hope for, getting more things done, writing down resolutions as if the things were handed down on stone tablets. On the other hand, I find it a non-notable moment in the year as I don’t expect to be doing much different. I am enjoying the eventide of life. Things are slowing down a bit,  but my book ideas, my writing still flows. I have a great family, good friends. I have been blessed with luck, though I admit to working hard as well. But the days actually are galloping ahead too fast for me. I just want a bit more time to savor them.

This first week of January has been chockablock full. A New Year’s party at friends Corinne and Matt’s house where the children’s book group mostly sat in their sunny alcove and chatted amongst ourselves instead of meeting and greeting new folk.

I have started writing a poem a day, and will try to do it for a year. So far I am on top of the count, but it’s early days, of course. If I’m lucky, I might get a handful of good poems out of this exercise. It’s mostly to keep my poetry mind sharp. Not sure if any of the poems written this way will be keepers.  Remember, these poems will get, at most, only one or two revisions though at year’s end I’ll see if there are any I might want to work on. But will try and put one up every few additions to the journal:

January 7:

City Snow

The steady fall of snow quiets the city’s heart,

till its pulse is scarcely detectable.

I wait for a taxi on a street corner

bare of artifice, all Christmas decorations

packed away and stored, carols once blaring stilled.

My decorative scarf is the only color

against the snow, useless for keeping my head dry.

Twenty minutes of peering out into the lane,

I long for a hot bath instead of meetings.

Like an old warhorse, ready for the knacker, I shiver,

little runnels of cold like worms beneath my skin.

Once I rode a lipizzaner  whose body wrinkled that way,

not with the cold, but with contained energy.

My energy dissipated, I almost turn for home

when a taxi, smooth as a leopard, runs a red light,

screeching to my side. Water sprays,

the light changes, I puddle into the seat.

Honking once for practice, the driver slips us into gear,

and the city becomes alive once more.

Do I like any part of this poem? Two images please me: the pulse of the city slowing, and the old horse bit. Whether they belong in the same poem, I’m not sure. I like the phrase “I puddle into the seat” and it alone may be a keeper. Ask me in a year.

I went into New York City for three days, staying at my friends Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman’s apartment. I call it Bloomsbury-on-Hudson. The trip ncluded meetings with three editors, my agent, a visit to the Museum of Natural History with an old classmate from elementary school, two dinners out, and a scary ride through the snow from the train station to my house close to midnight, my car sliding about like Tonya Harding on a bad day.

I managed about four more chapter revisions on BUG, figured out problems in two picture books (one already contracted for, one written for my friend Bob Marstall, based on some of his doodles). We had a writers’ meeting, I got my hair done, met with Dan the Handy Man about some new work that will be done this winter. As always, a combination of the ordinary and the magical.

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