Friday, December 16, 2011

A Big Backstory

Last Friday morning I walked my son into the high school's office to sign him in as late. The first secretary looked up and pointed out the late registration secretary around the corner of the desk. This second secretary looked up from her keyboard and said, “Is the reason for the lateness: family, weather, an appointment, or something else?”

Um...what? Which category? Which one category? My brain couldn't process that. My reasons fit into a bunch of those categories. In fact, I had a whole backstory full of reasons. So I stood there like an idiot. How the heck could I distill my morning to fit into just one category? So out spilled the whole sorry story.

What I told them went something like this:

I got up early, got the girls breakfast and drove [in treacherous snowy weather] to skating rink for 7am. I found out my son had missed the bus because hubby was stuck in a ditch and didn't get home to wake him up. After arranging for another mom to take the girls to school, I drove [in treacherous snowy weather] past home to find hubby at the roadside getting his vehicle towed. I drove [in treacherous snowy weather] hubby home to change clothes, also picked up son, and drove [in treacherous snowy weather] to town to drop hubby at a critically important appointment in one end of town and then drove [in treacherous snowy weather] to the other end of town to sign son in at school. And I needed to leave immediately because I had to drive back home [in treacherous snowy weather] to the village library where I was now likely to be a few minutes late for my annual job evaluation, after which time I could expect hubby’s text so I could drive back into town [in treacherous snowy weather] to pick him up, and then drive [in treacherous snowy weather] back home again. Did I mention that town and home are like 20 minutes apart in good weather?

Gad, no wonder those secretaries laughed at me. And no wonder no one wants to have an entire backstory dumped on them at once.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

You know you might be a children's writer if...

There you are, sitting on the hard white wooden bench in your small town arena lobby. You're reading quietly, passing the time during your son's hockey practice, while two young boys you don't know toss a small ball back and forth across the lobby. Back and forth, back and forth, they chase the ball, toss it, chase it, and so on until--

The arena doors open with a clatter and a woman walks in. One of the boys calls out to her with an enthusiastic, "Hi, Bitch!" (Which sounds a bit like "hiya beetch!")


A silence in which you cringe for the boy.

"What did you say?" the woman, finding her voice, demands. She repeats her demand several times in increasingly higher volumes.

The boy wisely stays silent.

Finally the woman orders him to SIT THERE on THAT BENCH and DON'T MOVE.

He perches timidly beside you, head bent, sitting on his hands. You just want to hug him.

Do you empathize with the mother having to hear that from her child? Not really. You feel for the boy. You bet he's seen someone greet a friend that way on some TV show, or heard it uttered by an older kid, and the reaction was much different from the one he got.

Yes, if this happens you just might be a children's writer. And there might be a story there....somewhere.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Hint of Good Things To Come

My editor just emailed me a close-to-final version of the cover for "Counting on Fall," my book that's due out next fall from Owlkids. It's really lovely!

Unfortunately, I can't share it just yet. But I can give you a hint. Check out this blog post by Ashley Barron: "Is 'Autumny' a Word?"

Those leaves look very familiar to me.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Shades of My Muskoka Sunrise

What a sunrise this morning! It sure made me glad I got up early, and what a way to start December. I got a few photos of the colour, but in playing with my camera the photos came out looking quite different depending on the setting. See:

It made me think: which one is the shade of reality? Do I even remember now? Nope, not really. Does it matter? Maybe, but for me the variations are what matter not which one is more authentic.

Those differing shades of reality...the stuff a writer navigates through all the time, wouldn't you say?