Monday, December 31, 2007

The Big Question: Art or Commerce?

So, a dear friend of mine posed a question on the BB last week: If a genie granted you one WIP wish, would you rather have your published novel be a commercial blockbuster or a literary classic? How would you choose? (Thanks Franny!)

Difficult question. All my life I've been that idealist who wants nothing less than artistic divinity. But of course, I'm no George Orwell or William Shakespeare, etc., so I have to accept that reality. Sorry, can't suspend my disbelief quite that far. But then again, who says the two things have to be mutually exclusive?

One fellow writer decided commercial success was the one way he could get paid and keep writing what he loves. He further added that he couldn't stand to have his work dissected by scholarly know-it-alls (what? English teachers like me? Naaa!) Of course my brainiac husband pointed out that the world of YA fiction rarely ever registers with the scholarly crowd, and of course I argued otherwise. But he did have a point. Of course JK Rowling has been the subject of plenty of scholarly debate, at least I would call it that. And as far as I'm concerned, she has both in her pocket. The HP saga will find its place in the classic canon, one way or another.

But then, I am the one who wants it all, as foolish as that may be. But I also realize that I have a lot more writing to do before I ever hone it to a point even on the outskirts of art. So what would I choose? The romantic in me wants to live on through my work. Hand me that classic, Mr. Newberry. But the practical part of me has seen poverty up close and would much rather have something for my kids besides potential riches after I'm dead. At least I would like to keep writing and not starve. So what's the answer? I guess I'll have to wait and see what 2008 brings. I have a feeling it's going to be a good year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Marauding Mushrooms, Electronic Dinosaurs...and Pigs! it is. As per Just Mom's request. The Pig! My daughter has been playing with non-stop, and just now asked me to find a Wilbur game for her on the computer--so she can keep the pig vibe happening. Now she wants a red elephant, and my son wants a horse--color yet to be determined. It's good therapy for my anyway. Keeping my fingers nimble and giving me some relaxation, which I sorely need.

Oh! And here's our little mushroom warrior preparing to take on the big boys in the back yard. So what if it's 38 degrees out! A pair of wellies and a warm coat are just the ticket for a backyard battle.


Mushrooms and Dinosaurs, Oh My!

My husband left on Thursday for his first interview and the MLA conference. My children spent the day dazzling me with their unbelievable resourcefulness and creativity. My 6-year-old ran around in a pair of lime-green capris, a t-shirt that reads "No Monkey Business; Bingo's Pet Shop--Going Bananas since 4000 B.C.," and a mushroom hat on her head. No kidding! A mushroom hat. She made the hat at the Winter Fair as part of a story. Meanwhile, my son is building a remote-control dinosaur out of Legos, until his buddy comes for a visit and all three of them run around with swords and capes and play hide-n-seek (the boys are 10--what good boys!). And what am I doing? Knitting a pig! Yep, I taught myself how to knit a few weeks ago, and now I'd like to do something a little more adventurous than great, long, rectangles. So, I followed a pattern and knit a pig. My daughter has been holding it and squeezing it ever since!

So where is my writing in all of this? In my head, ruminating. I was sick all during Christmas, so I'm giving myself a few more days to get my energy back and my brain fresh. Of course I've been a little pre-occupied with my DH's job search as well. He'll be back late tomorrow, but I can never sleep when he's gone. We have heard so little, and it's really making it hard to be positive, but I keep telling him, there will be more. I know there's a wonderful job waiting for him. I just hope it's not in the middle of the tundra!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Party's over--whew!

Yes, yesterday was full of parties, songs, games, and a lot of tears. It was my last day as a Waldorf teacher. The children were a hoot. They had so much fun. And of course it was sad. As hard as this job has been, I felt so connected to them. Perhaps it's because it was so hard that I feel so close to them. And to their parents. I got a tremendous group hug at the very end of the day--8 or so children gathered around and squeezing me tight. I said it so quietly, but they heard it. "I could use 100 of these." Yep, those little sweeties squeezed me 100 times, counting each hug at the top of their lungs. They gave me some beautiful gifts, too. This is an experience unlike any other.

It was my son's last day there, too, and his classmates surprised him. One friend kept him busy on the playground while the others decorated his desk and pulled up the rocking chair, laying fur over it and preparing it like a throne. When he came into the room, they all yelled "Surprise!" and gave him a bag full of gifts. They really treated him like a prince. The Waldorf school creates more than a community. It creates a huge family.

This has been such a hard year, but I feel truly blessed. So much love! And of course, now that it's all over, I'm getting sick with that nasty cold. Just in time for Christmas. Now to sleep until Santa arrives...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Still working it...

So I have yet to finish going over my MS before sending it to Blooming Tree Press. I hope my delay does not quash their interest. It's been so difficult to get it where I want it while I'm winding down my teaching. But there we are--a new 3rd grade teacher has been hired and next friday, the 21st, will be my last day as a third grade teacher. After the Thanksgiving holiday, I had some energy...for a few days--and thought "Am I just a wimp?" But it did not take long before the fatigue took over my body again and my feet began to hurt and other RA symptoms crept up. So that's it. If I could work one day a week, I would probably be able to do it, but of course that ain't gonna happen!

I'm glad they were able to find a replacement so quickly. She will be great, and she is a familiar face to everyone. She has been working as a support teacher for the middle school, so she knows the Waldorf ropes. But as I got the final word tonight, I found myself a jumble of emotions. I have to fight that feeling that I am a failure and try not to dwell on such thoughts. I am incredibly sad to be leaving these kids. As challenging as some of them are, I've grown to love them all so much. I am relieved that a good person will be taking them forward.

We are still waiting to see where DH will be next. Worried that the academic career is over (though I really don't think that will happen). Hoping we don't end up in the tundra somewhere!

Anyway, I'll press on and hope that this book finds a home and I get a real start in publishing soon. And I'll keep thinking positive for the whole job search and future plans. Now I think I'll go have a glass of wine and a good cry...then I'll be fine!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Yippee! A chance!

Well a couple of days ago I got a fabulous email from Blooming Tree Press requesting a full manuscript of my first YA novel. They put out a limited call for manuscripts in November, so I took a chance. I revised the first chapter one more time, suffered through the synopsis process (as you all read), and wrote a cover letter. I sent it off via email and in a few days got that fabulous response. So, as I write this, I am taking a break from putting a quick revision on the remaining chapters before I email the whole MS to Blooming Tree. I wish I could take a few weeks, but with school duties and such, even that would be difficult. So I am trying to get it close to what I would like it to be over this weekend.

Having distance from this story for a while helped me to take a fresh look at it now. I know what needs to be done. It's just a matter of having time to do it right. I will have the time after Christmas, but I can't wait that long to send them the full ms. So wish me luck that I can at least get something good enough to show them what this story can be.