Saturday, November 05, 2005

Procrastination and Masturbation

A very good friend of mine told me this:
Procrastination and masturbation are very similar. In the end you are just fucking yourself.

I've started writing again.

That was the hardest part. Starting. I suppose it always is. I'm amazed that I can find ever excuse not to write, think of it like some sort of weight I have to bear, yet as soon as I actually start, I remember why I need to write. Then, tomorrow, it will start all over.

I write for children. This blog is my only outlet for adult writing. I've finished 4 picture books (2 are in the slush piles of publishers, the other 2 are here after their latest rejection) and now I have started a middle grade/ya novel, historical fiction, set during the civil war.

Because of the disruption of the move, I had ample excuses not to write. The latest is that my mother is staying with me for an extended visit. She is in my guest room, which was previously my writing room. In addition to entertaining her, doing all the work around the house she wants me to do, and just spending time with her, she is living in the room I like to call my office.

Ok, that is a dumb excuse. I can write anywhere. My mother does not spend all her time in the guest room.

I decided to go over the manuscripts for my picture books, poetry and short stories before I delve back into the novel. Is that procrastination? Probably a little.

Also, I like picture books. I enjoy writing and reading them. However, I recently read that publishers are inundated with picture books. Everyone with a computer and an idea thinks that he or she can write a picture book. Why not? They are short and easy.

OK, while picture books are short (total pages 32, including title page, copy write, etc.) saying they are easy is like saying a haiku is easy to write. I mean, a haiku only has 17 syllables. How hard can that be?

I think anyone who has tried knows that getting a complete thought down to 17 syllables can be an exercise in torture. Every single word has to count, has to work, has to do its job efficiently or it must be eliminated. That is how picture books are.

And I think that's why I like the picture book format. A writer must whittle down words to the bare minimum and leave details to the illustrator. Do you remember the book "Good Night Moon"? The author envisioned a family of people, not bunnies. The illustrator decided on bunnies. Can you imagine it any other way?

I enjoy the challenge. I enjoy the structure and confinement (it is thinking inside the box). But am I up to the challenge? I found a few fatal flaws in my latest picture book, so the procrastination paid off. I'll be sending that off soon, and let everyone know how it fares.

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