Saturday, April 17, 2010

what's a writer to do when she's not writing?

On Thursday my laptop finally decided it'd had enough. One minute the screen was filled with words - my book Trevelyn's Shimmer, to be exact - and the next nothing but a black screen. I'm really trying not to freak out because I've been pretty consistent with backing-up my work. Of course, the one day I didn't back-up the edits of my manuscript was the day my computer went ka-put. Luckily, I had been procrastinating that day so I didn't make any major changes, and I'm still hoping my work can be recovered... So now, I'm pulling together some savings, which totally sucks and really hurts, and trying to decide what kind of laptop I should get (your suggestions are totally welcome, by the way).

I've had two free days to spend not-writing. Two days that I would normally be glued to my computer. Two days, too long. See, I'm not one of those writers who waits around for inspiration to strike. If I have a day off to write, I write. Yes, sometimes I spend chunks of time staring into space, but my mind is always working and thinking about what to do next in my story.

I was talking with my step-mother this morning about my laptop issue. "I feel so helpless," I said. "I don't know what to do with myself and all of this free time not writing."
"Read," she said. "Why don't you just sit down and read?"

And she's so right! I do read. I read quite a lot, actually. But I haven't been reading enough. I've been so hyper-focused on revising my book, that any time spent away from it makes me anxious. Yet, I know it's so important for writers, published or not, to keep abreast on the news in our industry. I've cut back on some of the subscriptions I used to buy - probably like most people - however, I still get Writer's Digest - a must-have for writers, in my opinion. That said, there's a pile of unread Writers Digests collecting dust in my room. I also have the March/April 2010 SCBWI bulletin (Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators) to read. And countless websites like Publisher's Weekly, and agent blogs with invaluable information like Nathan Bransford's and Jill Corcoran's, as well as the Children's Book Council site, where I was happy to learn of the Children's Choice Awards - that's the most popular books for kids decided upon by kids. Plus, so many more websites, that are sadly saved on my dang busted laptop under My Favorites...ah! I'm trying not to freak out....

One day Spider, one day....

Inside, such good advice from my peers...

Oh, Cricket. You know you want one of my stories!

It could be so easy to sit around and snack and watch episodes of Top Chef Masters and Vampire Diaries, while I decide on which laptop to buy (I clearly don't make quick decisions). But I know I need to be doing more. So I will go to my local bookseller and buy the latest issues of magazines that I dream of being in - a la Cricket, Spider and Highlights. I buy them, the cashier asks if I am a teacher, I say no, sometimes they give me a strange look (I guess I don't look like a person with kids), then I'll go home and read and study. Hey! You want to know a great place to find suggestions on pieces to write?...straight from the mouths of babes, as a matter of fact? The Letterbox section in Cricket Magazine. Yeah! That's the place where readers write in on what they really liked reading, what they want to read more of, and what outside books they're currently loving, or not. Kids chime in on topics ranging from their favorite animals to chronic diseases affecting their family or friends. Seriously, check it out. Letterbox, and the-like, gold-mine for writers.
So, now that I'm more caught up on my reading, I realize I need to make a calendar to set aside "reading-time" and "writing-time." It's just so easy to get sucked into writing a book or short story for one of my dream magazines.
And by the way, I really would appreciate any suggestions anyone has on what kind of laptop I should buy. I'm torn between biting the bullet and investing in a Macbook Pro, or going the less expensive route and getting another PC...?

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