Do you worry, too, about sitting so much in front of a keyboard? I know it’s not good to sit here seven hours a day even though I take short breaks now and then to walk and stretch. Some time ago I started standing at my desk part of the time. I have one of those foldout lap desks I set on the desk and its just the right height. Some days I use it more than others but now that I’m starting another book I’ll be standing quite a bit of the time over the coming months. First drafts are usually written with pen and paper before I type them into the computer. Therefore, writing is good for me. I can’t wait to tell my wife!
I received my royalty statement from Dramatic Publishing the other day. I have two entries in their catalog, both thanks to my multi-talented friend SANDY ASHER. In 2004, she wrote SOMEBODY CATCH MY HOMEWORK, a play inspired by various poems from my work, both published and un-. A few years later she and I teamed to write a long story in free verse, JESSE AND GRACE, A BEST FRIENDS STORY, also published by Dramatic.
JESSE AND GRACE has done well and Sandy won two coveted awards for it — AATE Distinguished Play Award and The Charlotte B. Chorpenning Playwright Award. It wasn’t produced during the past six reporting months but SOMEBODY CATCH MY HOMEWORK was. I was pleased to see in this new statement that it has recently appeared in Missoula Children’s Theatre (Missoula, Montana), Oak Farm Montessori School (Avilla, Indiana), and Saint Thomas More High School (Milwaukee, Wisconsin).
Think of a story about a new girl in a 4th grade class that has a lot going on. It’s sort of like a musical (really does have music) but when kids stop to perform, my poems come out of their mouths instead of songs.Is that cool? I think so!
I promised my writing partners on the book for Benchmark — LYNNE KULICH and TIM RASINSKI — that I would start working on my part (50 new poems, 10 each for grades 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) by September 1. That’s this Thursday! Turns out I’m running ahead of schedule so I plan to get going on Tuesday.
There’s always a nervous anticipation when approaching a new book. I’ve signed a contract. I’m obligated to produce the new material by a specified date. My partners, experts in their fields, will depend on me to provide what they need to do their own work. What they will write also takes thought, research, and time. They need appropriate lead time. If I don’t send them 3-5 poems every week from now until we reach the end, the project could fall seriously behind. Our completion due date is February 3.
My first consideration is, where to begin. Lynne and Tim have suggested some possible themes and I’ll add some of my own. Fifty poems is enough for four trade book collections. Do I pick a grade, 3rd for example, and stick with it until I’ve finished ten poems before moving on? Will that help Tim and Lynne more than if I skip around from grade to grade as ideas come to me? I’ll consult with them. I think I know the answer, stick with one grade at a time, but partnerships involved a lot of chatting back and forth to keep everyone involved and all points resolved as we go.
I’ll be busy for the next several months but not too busy to engage in other projects. Some weeks I’ll have a day or so to focus on other ideas. I’ll also take time out now and then for other matters — trips to Portland in September, the condo in October, Kansas City (The Writers Place), Anaheim (NCTE), a week on the California coast in November, plus things and places I don’t know about now. I do love being a writer.
In a few more days it will be time to post a word for the September Word of the Month Poetry Challenge. For the past many months I’ve posted each new word myself, but I think it’s time to share the fun again.
The first Highlights poetry workshop I gave in Honesdale, in 2011, was attended by the following good people CORY CORRADO, JEANNE POLAND, KEN SLESARIK, SUSAN CARMICHAEL, JOY ACEY, HEIDI MORDHORST, BECCA MENSHEN, and CAROL-ANN HOYTE. In previous posts I’ve mentioned this group of poets, most of whom came to the workshop as strangers and left friends. Many have remained in touch over these past eleven years.
With that original group in mind, I’m going to ask each in turn to provide the Word of the Month word for the coming months of September (Cory), October (Jeanne), November (Ken), December (Susan), January (Joy), February (Heidi), March (Becca), and April (Carol-Ann). If someone would rather not or can’t be located in time, we’ll always have me as Plan B.
So Cory, you’re up first. Send me a note in the next few days at firstname.lastname@example.org with your word for September and I’ll post it on September 1. Thank you in advance!