November 7th, 2006

Ups and Downs and Ins and Outs

I have a story due tomorrow. To the editor of a Major Magazine. And I haven’t done one interview for it yet. (It’s not actually my fault: the movie exec who’s intended to be my primary source has not responded to my email—and, I discovered today, the go-between I’d been frantically phoning and emailing actually left the studio last month.)


Yesterday I had a Serious Talk with a managing editor about layout issues. I can only hope my face was as pleasantly aligned as I intended it to be when I said—hopefully in a voice as calm and amicable as I intended it to be—“But shortcuts always go at the front of the book.” (I mean, have you ever seen a two-page spread of short, punchy news items at the back of the book? If you have, I don’t want to hear it.) The managing editor didn’t flinch (much), so I feel semi-confident that I was not giving her The Look, my infamous expression that strikes terror into the souls of my conversation partners. (Man, I wish I knew what it looks like.)


The 13-year-old I’d interviewed for a story that was finally accepted for a kids’ magazine is now 14—going on 37, apparently. So the editor can’t use the photos the girl gave me, and now the kid’s mother is digging though photo albums, trying to find pictures of her when she was 13 and less … mature.


And yesterday I finally gave in and did an actual re-write—from scratch, mind you—of the prologue of my juvenile fantasy novel.


But into each workday a little rain must fall, no? And though it’s only Tuesday, it’s plain I’m getting my share of sunshine this week, too. (At least until I get to Washington DC on Friday, where apparently November means “winter.”)


I’ve been invited to be one of the judges at an elementary school writing contest, and tomorrow I get to plough through the entries (all eight of them).


My five-part story, “Wes’s Great Idea,” started on the Los Angeles Times Kids’ Page yesterday.


An Aterciopelados concert last night offered much fascinating people-watching and heart-thrumming bass lines, and sparked a long discussion with myself about words—particularly the sound of them. Aterciopelados—translated in two different newspapers as “The Velvety Ones” and “The Velveted Ones”—is a great name for a band, and it’s big fun to say. But I started thinking about velvet—my childhood obsession with the fabric, and my adult fondness for the word itself. (I think it’s the Vs that do it—the way they make your lips vibrate.) And then I started thinking about other words I like, like jacaranda. (I also enjoy the trees, sidewalk stainers that they are.) And then I vowed anew to be more precise in my word choice when I write, to pin the images I see inside my head onto the page with the perfect words, connotation and denotation and sound and sight and all. (All that and great music too! It was quite a concert.)


And I received a fan email about my Cricket story, “The Knights’ Cavern.” Okay, it wasn’t really a fan letter. (It was from an adult storyteller with a fondness for Welsh stories, who was curious about the source of the legend on which the story is based.) But she did call it a “good story,” so I’m counting it anyway.


I can hardly wait to see what’s next!