Reminder: Matt Forrest Esenwine is hosting the virtual holiday party that has been at my house the past two years. Early tomorrow morning guests will start arriving at https://www.facebook.com/MattForrestVoice?pnref=friends.search and I look forward to seeing you there!
Yesterday I passed a milestone of sorts. I filled my second record book and bought a new one. I haven’t written in it yet. I have the same feeling about a new journal. Seems like the first entry should be spectacular. Bee Cullinan and I had a talk about that once. She said to take a pen, mark all over that first page, rip it out, and get on with it. Like getting the first scratch on a new car.
I started my first record book in 1959. The first entry, From Day to Day, ran 5,600 words, was submitted to Atlantic, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and Arizona Quarterly. No sale.
The last entry, Little Boy Soup, sold to Ladybird Press on 11/30/89. At that time it was my 177th submitted work.
My second record book ended with my 354th submitted work, My Book of Little Critters. It went out on 11/29/17. Nothing to report yet.
I’ve also kept track of how many individual items I’ve finished over the years — poems, picture books, etc. That total stands at 1,701 as I begin to write in this third record book. When I think about it, my whole life’s work is recorded in these slender books. There is a lot of hope in them, heartache, celebrations.
This new ledger is larger and fancier than the others. Its pages are numbered, and there’s space enough for 400 more submissions. It means I have a long way to go before I run out of ideas . . . or get another record book.
Remember when I finished a manuscript a few days ago and sat back with a sigh of satisfaction? That one? And I said it wouldn’t be long before I’d be picking at it?
Over the weekend I decided to add back matter about each subject. I still have my notes of course, but they were mostly focused on my specific slant to the narrative. Now I’m going back for more reading and more notes as I write twelve 75-word end notes. I’ve finished five in two days so that’s not too bad although I didn’t sleep well Monday night because I couldn’t get the thoughts out of my mind.
And yesterday afternoon I reread the five I’d done and decided to redo them so they’ll stay closer to the main subject. I had hoped to finish the additions by the end of this week, but I’m starting to have doubts…
The temperature has been up and down lately from a low of 11 to a high of 70. Mostly pretty though, and the denizens of Goose Lake are out and about. In the past three days we’ve been visited by a pair of foxes in our front yard and a bald eagle soaring over the lake. Five crows took out after it and gave it a good chase but it shook them off and continued to sail back and fourth for several minutes. The geese and ducks below paid no attention to the show going on above them.
Three swans have paid us a visit and three crows have adopted our back yard. I don’t have a good shot of anything but here’s one I took through the kitchen window that shows one of the crows and a couple of the magnificent swans. The crows are fat and sassy and act like they own our patio. Most other birds are gone now so they have all the privacy they want.
I can sigh all I want about the cold weather but at least it brings with it a constant parade of delights to watch and think about.
Now and then I look around my desk at the accumulation of personal artifacts that bring me pleasure. Beside me are two coffee mugs stuffed with pens and pencils. I brought one of them home from the Lakes Country Council of International Reading Association. Ruth Culham gave me the other one, which reads, “I see book plots . . . they’re everywhere.” There’s a small clock, which was a Gift of Time in Education award some years back. You know about the saber tooth cat and short faced bear replicas. Close by are two great drawings by Rob Shepperson and above them hang a picture by Eloise Wilkin from my first book (THE BOY WITH A DRUM), a painting from WHEN COWS COME HOME by Chris Demarest, a painting from PIRATES by Dan Burr, a picture from A THOUSAND COUSINS by Betsy Lewin, and a painting by Giles Laroche from NOW YOU SEE THEM, NOW YOU DON’T.
There are two mementoes from my Hallmark days. When I left in 1973, the writing staff gave me a plaque that reads, “To the Funny but No King.” From the editors I got a pewter mug engraved
For Always Taking Time
From Your Editors.”
I’ve smiled at about that missing comma many times in the 44 years since then.
My grandfather’s glasses and veterinarian college text book are here. A glass horse from my father’s horse collection. Small pictures of my other grandfather and grandmother. This picture of Sandy and me dressed to the nines for some party.
Sometimes we don’t have to look far to find pleasure. My workplace borders on cluttered, but I’m surrounded by rich memories and can’t imagine putting a single one of these items away.