Saturday, August 4, 2012

Self-Indulgent Moaning About Revision

The national SCBWI conference is only three miles from my house and I am not there. I am at home engaging in a rewrite that is challenging, frustrating, and going well. It is also sucking up all my time, including the time I generally use to wash my hair and go to the farmer’s market.

Yesterday, I ate Honey Nut Cheerios for lunch. But not at the dining room table.

This is because I am so serious about this rewrite that I have moved my 86 note cards from the floor of my bedroom to my dining room table because, let’s face it, my dog is 15 years old and it’s unlikely I’m going to be able to get him to stop eating paper. And if he eats this particular paper, it will ruin my life.

My husband and I are eating on TV trays. It’s a good thing that our son is working on set 12 hours a day 6 days a week and isn’t here to notice the complete break-down of our usual domestic routines – although the lack of clean towels has been noted.

Every night at SCBWI, another group of people with whom I want to hang out is meeting at the bar of the Century Plaza. First it was the Blue Boarders, and then Los Angeles first time YA novelists, and then Los Angeles YA novelists period, and then the LA Kidlit group. There is a party with a ‘60’s theme where others will, no doubt, dance to White Rabbit. While I’m at home.

The SCBWI, for anyone not heavily immersed in the children’s book writing world, is the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Friends and colleagues from all over the country converge at the national conference in L.A. every summer. I love that conference. I get inspired at that conference.

I actually conceived the idea for my first book while sitting at that conference. I met the editor of that very book at that conference. I heard my agent speak at that conference (twice) and dreamed about how wonderful it would be to have her representing my work. And a few years later, she sold Where It Began and this new novel that I am sitting in my dining room reshuffling.

And, all right, the reason I’m not at that conference is, to some extent, the result of the wonderful success and impact of that conference in my life. The same motivations that got me to that conference, also landed me in my dining room with a TV tray eating Cheerios while contemplating my many, many index cards, and writing new scenes.

I am supposed to be here and not there. I am supposed to be doing what I’m doing. Writing here and not having an inspirational good time there.

Damn it, I still want to go play. Boo hoo. Moan moan. But I want to be a writer with a deadline even more.


  1. Ah, to be so absorbed that the towels go unwashed and the kitchen unfamiliar- I envy you. These are the good things.

  2. I am working on revisions as well. I hope I get to that stage where I'm that wrapped up in them. Right now I'm still struggling. Glad to here that yours are going well. Although it's always hard to miss out on a gathering of friends. Maybe next year =)

  3. Dear Ruth and Mirka,
    I'm beginning to understand why people find writers' colonies so appealing. My last trip out of my house and down the hill was to get a corkboard at Staples so I could pin up all the note cards.

  4. Ann: I discovered last summer that foamboard works just as well as corkboard and it's a LOT less expensive. True, it starts to get icky after the 40th rearrangement of the notecards, but it's inexpensive to change out and you can do a different color for every book!

    1. Hi Anne,
      Thanks for the info. Unfortunately, I have to avoid all writing tools that could be eaten by an omnivorous dog. He has already been eying the thumbtacks.