August 14th, 2007


I freely admit that it’s a little pathetic (maybe more than a little), but it’s times like this that just make me think of a chapter title from These Happy Golden Years (or was it Little Town on the Prairie? Anyway, it was one of the superfun Little House books where Nellie Oleson is after Almanzo but she can’t have him because Laura’s already got him only she doesn’t know it yet): “A Whirl of Gaiety.” As I recall, Laura is having such an active social life that she is unable to study quite as much as she would normally. (Hey, I never thought about it before—but Laura was kind of a nerd! Go, Laura!)


This is just one of those times when real life is distracting me from my real work—and since it’s distracting me in a good way (well, mostly), I guess I’ll just let it.


It's a feast time (as opposed to famine) freelance-wise—a time I have to enjoy now, because soon enough the assignments will ebb again. I got a last-minute assignment yesterday from an editor at my favorite magazine—not my usual editor, but a nice one I’ve worked with before. This morning I had a whirlwind interview with a well-known CW star. This afternoon I have to go take pictures of a kid I profiled for Pockets. I have a story to revise for Highlights, and an essay to re-work for U.S. Catholic.


And then I’m trying to finalize plans for a visit to a movie set in Australia (seriously, that makes my life sound so way more glamorous than it is. I’m going to have to find a way to work it into casual conversation). I just chatted with the studio rep about whether it was more important for me to “get Jodie” or to “get the animal trainer” or to “get Abigail.” (Sadly, it really is more important for me to get the animal trainer. Which may be all for the best, though, since if I actually were in an enclosed space with Jodie, I would surely just stutter and stammer and eventually ask something really, really meaningful and important, like, “What’s it like to work with Anthony Hopkins?” And then Security would be called in, and the interview would be cut short, and probably the animal trainer wouldn’t even talk with me after the whole debacle.)


In between these assignments, there’s hanging out with my brother (home from college just for a couple more weeks), and becoming a bridesmaid, and reading and blogging and hill-running (you’d be surprised how fast a non-runner can sprint when yappy dogs suddenly enter the equation).


And where does this leave my MG fantasy manuscript, my real work? Ah, that’s a bigger question than it seems.


I had set myself a very, very firm deadline of this summer to really, really finish the first three chapters and submit to agents. Things were going along pretty well. Then yesterday I sat myself down with a notebook and a nice inky Bic pen, and started imagining what the story would be like if a different character—my main character’s sister—were the focus. The idea of such a big changeover had occurred to me a long, long time ago, but I was reluctant to set aside all my work and start from a different scratch.


But if nothing else, this manuscript has taught me that it is no use brushing things under the rug, closing your eyes so you can’t see the bogeyman sneak out of the closet, or putting your fingers in your ears and chanting out loud so you can’t hear what you don’t want to listen to. Not for the first time, I am doing something I absolutely, positively, very, very dramatically refused to do: starting over.


Okay, not officially starting over. Not yet. I know this character very well, but there are events we haven’t talked about yet—events the reader will need to see. So plot-wise this transformation is still tentative. But the ideas just came so easily yesterday—and only partly because of the inky Bic (they write so smoothly, don’t they??).


So I’ll allow the rest of this month to drift by, the foreground crammed with real life stuff. But behind the scenes, the wheels will be turning. And come September, I may just be cranking out a whole new vision of my manuscript. And if that’s the case, there will be a new deadline in my future—and that one, I promise, will be immovable!

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