Sunday, October 23, 2016

Weekend update

First and most important, Samuel came home for the weekend. I splurged on a milkshake at EJ's in celebration. I love that brown-eyed boy.

An illustrator did a sample illustration for one of the manuscripts I finished last week, and it looks fantastic. So the manuscript and sample will start going out together to publishers this week.

Finally, I just saw tonight that "Beep! Beep!" was named among the top 20 children's books since 2013, according to Early Childhood Education Zone. Not familiar with the site, but they must know what they're talking about.

I kept scrolling down to see where it was--top 15? Past "The Day the Crayons Quit." Past "Dragons Love Tacos."

Top 10? Nice. Past Mo Willems. Past Kevin Henkes.

Top 5? Surely not. I must have scrolled past it. Maybe it's not actually on here.

Whoa. Cool.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Two packages in the mail today

Copies of the new Scholastic paperback version of "Beep! Beep!" (which is nice because it's like having a new book out).

And a Bob Dylan biography I ordered from Amazon to see if I should give him another chance.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Writing picture books doesn't pay the bills

But I get so excited when I finish and submit a manuscript. I get so excited when we make a sale. I get so excited when the book comes out, and it has my name on it, and it's my words, my creative voice. And I get excited when I read it at story time at a bookstore and see babies and toddlers and new moms and dads and think of how great it is to be a parent and how great the world is with kids in it and how great picture books are and how great it is to be a part of that creative process.

I should spend my weekends looking for a permanent job, one that pays the bills and has a 401K and an annual bonus. And I am. I am.

But not my entire weekend. 

I completed and submitted two final manuscripts this weekend. Two! They're good. They rock. They both took months to get through multiple edits and revisions. One was an idea I had literally two years ago and hadn't gotten down on paper until August.

You have to make time for your creative passions. Otherwise your life just goes by, and so much of it is dedicated to simply paying the mortgage and putting food on the table (or, in our case, ordering it from Domino's, then putting the box on the table).

The difference between a good weekend and a mediocre weekend for me is that at the end of a good weekend I can say I created something. This was a good weekend.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Bob Dylan, the latest Nobel Prize winner

I've never been a Bob Dylan fan.

Part of the reason is that I didn't come of age in the "Blowin' in the Wind" era. When I was 16, Dylan had nothing of interest to say to me. "Gotta Serve Somebody"? I don't think so.

Let's be honest. Is there really anyone, anywhere, even on the 1980 Grammy committee, who thought "Gotta Serve Somebody" was a great song? Seriously. Listen to it.

I've written previously about how I was backstage when he appeared on Letterman in 1984. He didn't show up for rehearsals, backed away when Letterman tried to talk to him, and when my colleague said, "Great show, Bob," gave us the silent F you. You don't want to be on TV? Don't be on TV.

I've also pointed out previously that when he won the Congressional Medal of Honor, he couldn't be bothered to take off his sunglasses. That's not being a quirky artist. That's being a self-absorbed butthole.

Two minor quibbles, perhaps cherry picked. But I'm just not a fan, okay?

The fact that his major contribution to art over the past decade was being a Cadillac Escalante pitchman actually doesn't bother me. It kind of normalizes him a bit, like being in the Traveling Wilburys. But I still don't like him. 

Look. You gotta separate the art from the artist. Otherwise you're going to be disappointed. Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Frank Lloyd Wright...doesn't matter. Idolize art, not people. I'm just saying he doesn't seem like the kind of guy I'd want to have a beer with, or who'd want to have a beer with me either.

As for the art...I get it. Good lyrics, aside from the minor quibble that saving, naming, raging and fading don't rhyme with a-changin'. Major influence on a generation. A self-absorbed generation, but a generation. Was it Nobel Prize for Literature good? 

I'll leave that to others.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Girl on the subway

She was maybe six years old. Her little brother was having a rough day. The mom gave him the crushed remnants of a cookie to calm him, which he promptly poured onto his face and clothes. His big sister dutifully wiped his face with her hands. The mom handed him a napkin, which he rubbed across his face, then wadded up and handed to his big sister. She casually accepted it like she'd done this before. 

As I left the train I whispered to the mom what a good big sister her daughter was. She smiled and nodded.

I miss Samuel.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The return of Samuel

He took a bus from Hartford Friday afternoon, but there was traffic. He got here at 9--his first time home since we dropped him off at college a month ago.

The dogs were happy to see him but acted like he'd only been gone overnight. It was rainy and late. We ordered Domino's. 

"How are your classes going?" (He shrugged. "Pretty good.")

"Still getting along okay with your roommates?" (He shrugged. "Uh-huh.")

"Are you making friends in your classes? ("Uh-huh. A few.")

Aha. He's making friends.

"How's the cafeteria food?" ("Good. But the cafeteria closes at 7:30 so sometimes I forget to eat dinner by then.")

I knew he looked thin in the face. Why on Earth would a college cafeteria close at 7:30 PM? Is it a retirement home? In New York 7:30 is an afternoon snack.

Jen went to bed at midnight; Samuel, Ethan and I stayed up 'til 2--not doing anything, just on our computers, being in the apartment together.

Saturday around noon we got croissants from the new bakery on Columbus & 81st. He spent the rest of the afternoon and evening with a friend-turned-girlfriend from high school, got up early this morning, hugged us, and caught the 7:30 AM bus back to Hartford.

He left his pajamas on the bathroom floor and an unopened Nesquick in the fridge. 

He's a big boy. He's fine. Things will be okay.