Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Skype visits

Spring is usually my busy time for school visits (by usually I mean when I am on the east coast and not juggling a new baby), this year I had to make some changes. Lately I've been loving doing skype school visits. You can visit schools all over the place (next month I'm skyping with a school in Alaska!) without having to get on a plane, which is a lot more convenient now that I'm a mother. I plan to resume regular visits soon, but in the mean time its been a great solution. Kids get excited about the new technology (a couple of times its started some interesting discussions about time zones) and I get to talk with kids about books from home. The other day I got an awesome package of thank you notes from a skype visit in Masbeth, New York:






(Sorry about the hard questions Lindsey)

Sometimes there are technical issues, Skype can freeze or pixelate if you have a bad connection. I'm hoping the technology evolves soon. I've heard googlechat is pretty good quality, though I don't know how it would look when blown up by a projector. If anyone has had some experience with it or any other video chat I'd love to know what you think!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Operating Instructions

For the past couple months when I have a few minutes I've been reading Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott. The book is a journal of her first year with her son, Sam, and how it changed her life. It is dark and funny and brutally honest. When I've had two hours sleep and am covered in spit-up and pacing the apartment trying to get baby to sleep its helps to hear about motherhood from a writer's perspective- she spares no detail good or bad. This is part of an entry when her son was 7 months old:

"I wish I felt more like writing. I don't particularly feel like I have anything to say these days. I feel like the propulsion is missing. All that emptiness and desire and craving and feeling and need to achieve used to keep me at the typewriter. Now there's me and Sam, and it feels like there's not any steam in my pressure cooker. Whenever I teach, I tell my students about that line of Doctorow's, that when you're writing a novel, its like driving in a tulle fog: you can only see about as far as the headlights, but that's enough; it's as far as you have to see. And I tell them that this probably applies to real life, too. But right now I feel like I'm just sitting in the car with Sam, not really going anywhere, just getting to know each other, both of us looking out through the window at what passes by, and then at each other again."

This is how I feel today. Writing and painting feel very far away.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dream job

Our neighborhood here in San Francisco is teeming with families and the accompanying stores full of kid stuff, especially clothes and toys. I spend a lot of time taking baby on long walks and window shopping. Last week I wandered into a lovely store called Speesees a few blocks from our apartment. Everything is organic and fair trade and I just love the design. I can't wait til Tilda is old enough to wear this:


Or these:




They had some stuffed toys too:



I got to chatting with the owner and designer who is also a painter. When she found our I illustrated children's books she exclaimed that was her dream job. Its funny how the grass is always greener. I love my job but designing kids clothes sounds like a dream job to me!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

First books

This weekend I was delighted to receive the first copies of A Photo for Greta, my new book due out in May.


I completed the illustrations last summer, though it feels like a million years ago since so much has happened between now and then. It was great to hold the book in my hands at last. We tried reading it to baby, but as the pages are not chewable she was a little less than interested.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Time well spent

I loved Alvina's post last week about people in publishing pursuing creative goals outside of their day to day work life. As a creative professional you have to find ways to re-engage with your creative instincts or you will surely burn out fast. Being home with a new baby has made me think about this all the more. Because my time to work is extremely limited at the moment its important that the time I do have is spent well. To me that means not wasting time with procrastination and self-doubt, but getting to the heart of what I want to say. I hope that spirit carries through to the time when I have more hours at the computer.

In the meantime, I will keep keep chipping away at manuscripts in the making. And when I can't get to the keyboard, I'll look for other ways to express myself. Right now that means this:


It may be 60 degrees and sunny in California (don't hate me east coasters), but knitting is something I can do a little at a time. And every stitch makes me more excited about the next book.