Capitol Choices 2008 Tuesday, Jul 29 2008 

I’m pleased to see Kissing the Bee included on the Capitol Choices list, especially since said list includes Peter Cameron and Fabian Escapes. Such good company!

Affirmative Friday, Jul 25 2008 

As in, I’ll be at Affirmations on August 30th, leading a Writers’ Workshop in conjunction with the ongoing Youth Media Project. Have I mentioned before how much I enjoy working with young writers? Yeah, yeah, yeah!. . .Thanks, Julien Lanway, for having me in your house. I’m looking forward to a great session (and possibly pizza, too).

Elbow the dog! Tuesday, Jul 22 2008 

That’s his name, not a mean command. The dog in Headlong is called Elbow, and he gets a mention in the book’s new VOYA review, a first, I think, for any of my fictional animals (except possibly straydog, but that was almost a gimme). (Hello, Paz the cat!)

The review goes on to note that “this lovely story portrays friendship—what it is and what it is not. Many teen girls will wish themselves into this book.” Which is also lovely. Thanks, VOYA, and bow wow.

Like ropes and pitons piled in a corner Saturday, Jul 12 2008 

What to do with old/unfinished/unpublished manuscripts? not in the physical sense, but artistically? Sometimes my work fails – either because I wasn’t the writer I needed to be to get it done; or because the idea was, in some fundamental way, not for me, no matter how much I tried to make it so; sometimes the thing never comes to full fruition, sometimes it’s finished but not done, not the book I meant for it to be. The writer isn’t always the best judge of a book’s success – one really needs that first, honest reader (hello, Chris) to make sure some weird scruple isn’t running the show – but to offer my work to potential readers, I need to have confidence in it myself.

So if that success, that confidence, is lacking, then what? Reuse the characters? Rework the idea? I rarely do either; in fact I don’t think I’ve ever done the first. They are who they are, where they are, not dolls whose costumes I can change and send back into the fictional fray. And there’s an engine to each piece of work that is, somehow, its own; that energy is not interchangeable, or at least not so for me.

So – the old mss – are they stepping stones, then? little milestones, to show where experiments were tried, attempts made? Maybe that’s their function. Maybe that’s enough.

No more charming deadbeats Sunday, Jul 6 2008 

. . . says the New York Times, quoting a recent report from the National Endowment for the Arts that explains how artists such as (or, as the Times has it, “in the form of”) (I like that, in the form of. Today I’ll be in the form of Hello Kitty! Tomorrow, the form of Fiorello LaGuardia – OK, sorry.) Anyway the NEA says actors, writers, dancers, photographers, etc., contribute significantly to the American economy, accounting for 1.4 percent of the workforce, which doesn’t sound like much until you think of it as two million people, which really is a lot.

The NEA also “debunks,” says the Times, the mythic stereotype of the “troubled dreamer” and “charming deadbeat” skulking around the margins, waiting for Mr. and Mrs. Bourgeoisie to throw them a bone, or a commission or something.

If I could be serious about this for two seconds, I’d point out how valuable this kind of information actually is – the idea that working in the arts is an actual job, profession, career, which is what I tell kids all the time at school visits, to take their talent seriously from the very beginning, and not wait until you’re forty and banging your head on the kitchen counter, groaning I could have made movies! I wanted to write books! I love clay, why didn’t I become a potter?! You can still do it at forty, of course, but think of the time you’ll save by starting when you’re eighteen. Or eight. But taking the work seriously is the prerequisite to getting the work done at all.

But I will totally miss that charming deadbeat, and his scarf, and his clove cigarette, and the fourteen dollars he owes me, or I owe him.

Or you could go blue Tuesday, Jul 1 2008 

They have a lot of blue in Charlevoix, too. Despite my semi-utilitarian garb, it’s definitely summer there.

Two ways to be green Tuesday, Jul 1 2008 

This guy is actually a bench, but you’d never know it from that expression, would you? He’s more than one thing – multipurposed – which is an excellent way to be green. You can sit on him (well, not his head, that would be rude) in the Charlevoix Public Library garden.

And this lovely space – part of the library proper – was once a school building; this was the gym. Note the high ceiling, the windows. . . .Rather than tear it down, they repurposed it, too. And its new purpose is much like the old: to inform, educate, and enlighten.