Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A New Gauthier Essay

Me in the Rinty Era
Last week, Bending Genres published my flash essay, Heroes. Heroes is a mini-memoir. Also, a dog story. I don't have any pictures of the dog involved (I don't think we had him very long), so I'm using one here of myself, a year or two before the event described in Heroes.

When we have time, we'll be adding this new publication to my Collected Essays.

Some thoughts on flash nonfiction from Dinty Moore, editor of Brevity.

A description of a flash essay course offered through Creative Nonfiction.

Five years ago, I had a piece of flash fiction (not nonfiction) published at Alimentum. I am becoming fond of these short forms.

Recently, Dinty Moore retweeted something I liked about flash fiction. What he shared said, essentially, that flash isn't flash because it goes by in a flash. It's flash because it involves a flash of insight. Something that I would apply to essays, too.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Time Management Tuesday: Slow Summer

Well, I'm back. In a manner of speaking.

Faithful readers may recall that I was struggling last summer because one family member was recovering from surgery and another one needed to be moved out of her house and her house emptied and sold. After getting down to working only three or four hours a week, I gave up and took two months off from writing.  In 2012 I was working two days a week dealing with two elders and being all supportive of a brand new, and very small, family member. In 2011, I took five months off from writing because a family member was ill. The same family member who is ill now, in fact. Illish.

We have been dealing with elderly relatives' health problems for a decade now. Things go up and down. We're not at the same level of intensity all the time, though for the two we have left we have  constant monitoring of living situations, health, finances, and clothing. We're interacting with medical professionals, exchanging information with other relatives, etc. That's the weekly stuff. Then there's the periodic crises, like the one we experienced here the day after Memorial Day. We'll be dealing with the fallout with that for months or even years to come. The weekly work has gone up and will stay that way for the foreseeable future.

While all the grandparent issues have been happening, we've also been dealing with more mundane life things that come with ten years of living. Then, of course, there is work. While I've been spending a decade dealing with older family members, I've also been spending a decade dealing with what the 2008 economic downturn did to publishing and mid-list writers like myself.

This lifestyle/workload/whatever you want to call it cannot be sustained. At least, not by me. Mistakes are happening. Things are being forgotten. My surroundings are often chaotic, which makes things worse.

Throw In The Towel Again Or Try Something Else

On some level I've known the struggle can't go on forever for quite some time. Back in 2016, I wondered if I could do more, if I slowed down. The subject came up again last year when I was preparing for that family member's surgery. I was really concerned about it around that time. In addition to covering a couple articles on slowing down I addressed the issue of rushing. And then I looked to Einstein for help. Then I gave up, took a couple of months off, and when I went back to work, I had a lot of other things to do and forgot I was going to slow down.

I don't want to quit working altogether this time, so I'm going to pursue this slow work business. It could work. Or, at least, it could be better than doing nothing.

What I'm Doing This Summer

Reading about and trying to use:
  • Slow work (It's a thing, I'm not making this up)
  • Minimalism
  • A little voluntary simplicity, because a family member is into it 
Writing is going to go onto a back burner, because it's intense, labor intensive, and requires concentration I don't always have. I'm trying for a sentence or two a day on the project I worked on last month. Just to keep my head in it and keep it from going too cold.

Instead I'm going to work on submissions, because I hope that can be done in little chunks of time.

I'm also going to continue with a promotion of Saving the Planet & Stuff  planned for next month because, again, I think I can manage it in small amounts of time here and there. And it will be done by the end of July.

I'm going to limit the blog to Time Management Tuesdays, the Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar, and things that really grab me, like this thought I've had about Laurie and Professor Bhaer after watching the PBS version of Little Women. Except for the Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar, I'll only be posting when...well, I hate to say "when I feel like it." Maybe I should say "when I can." "When I have the energy." Yeah. That's it. When I have the energy.

So, you see, I am back. But only in a manner of speaking.

Friday, June 01, 2018

Time For Another Break

Original Content is going to take a break for a few days, or maybe even a few weeks, because we have another sick family member to attend to. I hope to be back by the middle of June, maybe earlier.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

June Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar

June is the beginning of summer and that means the Avon Free Public Library is starting its Local Author Festival. See this month's panel below.

Sat., June 2, Michele Cusolito, R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 10:30 AM

Wed., June 6, Morgan Matson, R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 7:00 PM

Wed., June 6, Rosemary Wells, Wesleyan R.J. Julia Bookstore, Middletown  Educators' and Parents' Night 7:00 PM

Sat., June 9, Michael Ian Black and Debbie Ridpath Ohi, R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 3:00 PM

Sat., June 9, Leslie Bulion, Wesleyan R.J. Julia Bookstore, Middletown  10:30 AM

Sat., June 9, Michael Belanger, Barnes & Noble, Stamford 1:00 PM

Thur., June 14, Chandra Prasad, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 7:00 PM

Sat., June 23, Dave Roman, R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 11:30 AM

Sat., June 23, Dave Roman, Wesleyan R.J. Julia Bookstore, Middletown 2:00 PM

Thurs., June 28 Steven Parlato, Juliana Spink Mills, Mark and Sheri Dursin, Geoffrey Craig, Natasha Friend, Teen Author Panel, Local Author Festival, Avon Free Public Library 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM

Sat., June 30, Mimi Stevens, The Storyteller's Cottage, Simsbury 2:00 PM

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Time Management Tuesday: Use Multipliers For Both Work And Play

On Saturday we did our first bike ride of the season, taking a spur on a rail trail that ended a half mile from the snf where one of our elders lives. So we biked up the road to see her, went out to lunch afterwards, and got back on the trail.

Remember Multipliers?

Multipliers, you may recall, are "activities that meet more than one goal." Don't confuse multipliers with multi-tasking. Multi-tasking is the attempt to do more than one thing at a time, which has fallen out of favor, since researchers say all multi-taskers are doing is switching back and forth between tasks, not doing more than one thing at a time.

With multipliers, on the other hand, you are doing only one thing. This one task, though, serves more than one goal. So while you're not trying to do more than one thing, you're trying to do one thing that will serve you in multiple ways.

It might help to think of multipliers as killing two or more birds with one stone.

My biking multiplier hit three goals:
  • The weekend elder visit
  • Increasing my walk/bike mileage for the week.
  • Training for a fall biking vacation


Why Should You Care About My Biking?


My bike riding multiplier is an example of how we need to be managing all our time, work time and free time, in order to find or make hours for things we want to do. Like writing. Addressing those three goals separately last Saturday could have taken me all day. I took care of all of them in half a day. If I hadn't stopped for lunch, I could have done it in less. That left me with another half day for other things.

As a general rule, when this happens for me it's accidental. It's rarely a result of real planning. Trying to spend some time at the beginning of each week planning for one multiplier would be an interesting exercise.  

Friday, May 25, 2018

What Did You Do This Week, Gail? May 21st Edition

Less than one week left of May Days. In the meantime, I'm still all about Good Women.

Goal 3. Generate New Work With "Good Women." I spent some time revising last week's chapter and then today I wrote all this material I was happy with but it just went on and on and there was so much more that had to happen and wasn't that going to be a drag? Then I came up with a way to make everything different and faster, though it means reworking today's work. So things are good, but not great.

Goal 4. Community Building/General Marketing/Branding.
  • Started the Connecticut Children's Lit Calendar
  • Spent a lot of time today corresponding with a family member with quite an elaborate website and blog about GDPR.
  • Did four blog posts and promoted them, which I'm not going into tonight because I have that CCLC to work on. Also, vacation. Also, I have to back up some work.

General Data Protection Regulation And Me

Well, I'm embarrassed to say that I haven't been paying much (or any) attention to what is going on with the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation until today, the day it goes into effect. I'm going to be researching how it affects writers, this writer in particular, and will be putting up some kind of notice for the very few European Union people who come by here.

As it turns out, I haven't stored information from visitors at my website and have had a privacy statement there saying so for years. That came about when concerns arose in the children's writers' community over e-mail from child readers.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Richard Peck

Author Richard Peck's death hit Facebook early this morning, long before the obituaries started turning up on the Internet. He was an accomplished and prolific author who continued to write well into his later years, publishing the well-received The Best Man in 2016. He was also very active and well-known in the children's literature community. How active and well-known? Even I've heard him speak.

Original Content On Richard Peck

A search of Original Content indicated that I've written about Richard Peck many times here, sometimes just mentions, sometimes more. The best ones:

What I Didn't Say

I can't find a post on Peck's award winning book A Long Way To Chicago, which I read and liked.

I didn't even look for a post on his London Holiday, because it's an adult book, and, yes, I've read  it. I don't recall a lot, except it involves some American women visiting England. I can say that that's a set-up I like.

I'm going to close with a few words for some Peck books I don't hear a lot about. He wrote several books about a character named Blossom Culp. My recollection is that the one I read was historical and amusing and had some fantasy elements. I'm thinking I should make an effort to find one of those for a reread.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Time Management Tuesday: Pick Your Companions Carefully

Salon has a new article, Identifying With Others Who Control Themselves Could Strengthen Your Own Self-Control that revisits the famous experiment in which children were tormented to see how long they could control themselves without wolfing down some marshmallows. The kids who could do without the longest  ended up doing better later in life. Were they born with good control? Could it be taught?

The Salon article describes a new study tormenting children who had been assigned to groups. Kids who thought their group members had waited before scarfing down marshmallows were better able to wait before doing so, themselves. The research is "the first to show that group behavior motivates young children's actions that involve self-control."

Haven't We Heard Something Like This Before?

Why, yes, we have. According to Kelly McGonigal (Hmm. I have her new book on my Kindle. When am I going to read that?), self-control is contagious. We are influenced by others in the groups we are part of, just like those kids.

"What does this have to do with managing time," I asked a few years back, "particularly managing time for writers? The May Days, people! National Novel Writing Month! Your writers' groups. All these group initiatives involve setting aside time (a month, a meeting every week or two) and pulling people together with the hope that we will "catch" initiative, work ethic, etc., from each other."

Right Now

Right now I'm taking part in  May Days, binge-writing with others. Looking for some self-control from other writers.  On the other hand, I didn't go to writers' group last week. No hope of getting self-control help from them this month. Yikes.

And, finally, I don't know if I've ever mentioned this here, but I really don't care for marshmallows. They would have had to pay me to eat those things.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Worth The Wait

I liked what I heard about Nimona by Noelle Stevenson when it was published in 2015. I finally got hold of a copy a couple of weeks ago, and this National Book Award Finalist did not disappoint.

Nimona is a graphic novel about a joyful young female shape shifter who is game for, and good at, any kind of violence. She throws her lot in with a supervillain, one with a backstory that involves injury and disappointment. Morally, he's a little horrified by Nimona, though he definitely becomes attached to her.

There's what was for me a surprising and subtle love interest. I'm not going to say much about it and ruin anyone else's reading experience.

The world these people live in is an interesting one. It's your traditional high fantasy setting with knights and medieval-looking people, but one to which science and modernish weapons have been added.

Great-looking art. Also, this is my favorite kind of graphic novel, one in which the story is showed totally through the images and dialogue, no narrative boxes telling us things.

Lots to enjoy here and not much to complain about.