Thursday, July 24, 2008

Of two minds (or maybe it's three)

I sometimes wonder if I have multiple personality issues because on most things I am of at least two minds.Right now I'm happy to be writing this blog piece, here at the computer, but there's a nagging sense I ought to be in the dining room, writing more on my new story idea. When I get back to that, I will become the character, a 5-year-old boy who probably has A.D.D.
When I take a break from that story and turn to the sketch-diary work-in-progress, I'll become a 15-year-old adventurer. And then the next Ellie McDoodle book will beckon and I'll become a 12-year-old girl with all the inner-battling angst and confidence of adolescence. Then I'll bounce over to Marcella, a 6-year-old creative problem-solver. But even while I become those personalities, I still apparently nurture the nasty inner critic who tears apart everything I do. I don't mean to keep feeding her. I'd like for her to waste away, or pack up and visit someone else for a while. Alas, she thrives in my head and has no reason to move on. Actually, I suspect she's been busy reproducing because I hear other negative voices as well.All these characters, mischievous and virtuous, disparaging and uplifting, live simultaneously in my head.
Sometimes they all yell at me at the same time.Sometimes they yell at me at the same time that someone in my real-life family is yelling at me -- and usually the family member is the sort who thinks real-life people deserve priority attention.
It's not always a bad thing to have all these various brains inside me. It's often helpful, like when I am about to start an author presentation at a bookstore. I get butterflies almost to the point of nausea, in advance. Eventually one of the rational brains steps forward and takes control, assuring the others that I've done these visits many dozens of times, I can handle whatever comes up, and in the end the visit will work out well. Usually the other brains settle down and let that brain continue to distract me for the next few hours.Then when the visit is over, the other brains jump back in, bouncing up and down in my head (nausea returns) and I get the urge to run or turn backflips.
I've never in my life done a backflip; I'm sure I wouldn't survive it.
Thankfully, the Zen brain takes over and drives me quietly and calmly back to my home, by which time the backflippers are asleep from the white noise of the highway.
Maybe it's normal to have lots of competing brains inside you, if you're creative. But maybe it's what drove artists and writers insane, throughout history. For my own safety, I'm telling the voices they can stay; what I don't need right now is a full-head mutiny.I have to go. The 5-year-old in my head just woke up and is ready to tell his story.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Does life ever slow down?

Does life ever slow down? And would I want it to? No, and no, I guess.

(from an Attwood Elementary School Field Day 2008 sign; this year's theme was Ellie McDoodle! Last year's was Dr. Suess)

Ellie 2 is out! Ellie McDoodle: New Kid in School is on bookstore and library shelves right NOW. Buy it! Borrow it! Read it!

I think it's a better book than the first. The first reviews are in, and they agree. It's the best I could make it... which means there's plenty of room for improvement. ;)

The book launch party at Schuler Books in Eastwood Towne Center last weekend went FANTASTIC. We had more people than chairs -- I was truly heartened (and surprised -- expected about 3 people there, and even told Jim at Schulers to only set up 3 chairs. He laughed and set up 40). My friend Lori reports on the event here.
Ellie and Er-ick play tug-o-war on a sign at the Attwood Field Day

I'm working on a few other book projects right now. When my wonderful-beautiful-brilliant (honestly, she is all that) editor says those magic words, "What do you have for the next Ellie book?" I'll be ready. In the meantime, I'm working on a book for older kids and a book for younger kids.

I've done a zillion sketches this summer, but haven't scanned many in because I've been too busy with other obligations.
Here are two sketches from my cousin's Ordination as a Priest, in May.

It was a fascinating ceremony, held in downtown Detroit at a lovely cathedral. Here's Father Charles, no longer Chuck:

Our car is in the shop, the first loaner car died (same problem as our car, ironically), and now the second loaner car is dead. I'm distressed; I missed a crit group meeting this morning and will probably miss my friend's birthday party this afternoon.
Crying doesn't help, so I'm writing (working on a book about a kid in NYC).
And, when I need a break, I pull pranks on my kid.
I'm laughing at the moment, because she just walked into my studio dressed like me! And talking like me! And it's hysterical.

Got time on your hands because your car isn't working?
Her book just went into a second printing -- and it's only been out a couple months.
And read this: Ann Finkelstein's blog.
And this one: Lori Van Hoesen's blog.
And check out this site: That's April.

These are all brilliant writers in my crit group. (Tim, Amy and Kay don't have blogs yet)
I love them so much I put their pictures in my second Ellie book. Page 7.