A Patchwork Life is Okay With Me

“It is good to love many things, for therein lies strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done with love is well done.”- Vincent Van Gogh

I’m interested in a lot of things. Writing novels and essays and poems. Making art. My dog. My California native plant garden. The birds and other wildlife that visit my garden. Photography.

Any one of those could be a full-time job and sometimes I make myself crazy jumping from one thing to another. And sometimes I beat myself up for what I fear is a lack of focus on any one thing because I worry it will lead people to think that not specializing in any one area of my life means I’m not very good at any one thing. Of course that’s complicated by the fact that I am quick to shout out my shortcomings and less quick to announce things I do well.

In moving old blog posts over here to my new blog I’ve been rereading a lot of posts, seeing if they still hold up over time and if I should keep them around. I noticed a disturbing trend, there was a lot of guilt, a lot of beating myself up for what I did and didn’t do. If I stopped blogging for a while I reentered the blog world with a long list of explanations. If I didn’t finish a book project by my personal drop dead date I got out the old hair shirt and wore for weeks and weeks. I whined a lot about my deficiencies as a writer, poet and artist. I called myself a rotten person, wife, mother, daughter, and friend. I gave a lot of space to the negative things in my life. Wow, what a bummer, eh?

There weren’t very many posts where I shouted out about how great I was doing with a book project or how a poem came together absolutely perfectly or how a piece of art went from the picture in my head to the picture on the page in a way that made me gasp. I have those moments but I didn’t write about them very often. I’d like to change that. I’d like to celebrate the every day moments of my life, the weird, the wacky, and the wonderful.

Today was a pretty typical day. The first thought I had when I woke up was about how to fix a design issue on the garden site. Which got me to thinking about the garden blog. Which got me to thinking about how I wanted to relaunch this writing blog/website today which meant I needed a blog post.  So I stayed in bed, closed my eyes, and sorted through some possible blog topics. Greg Pincus just wrote a post about social media guilt and I thought about writing a response to that since I’m returning to blogging after a long absence. I decided not to because sometimes giving voice to something I’m thinking about gives it power and for once I wanted to step back into blogging without making an apology. I blogged. I stopped. I decided to blog again.

Because I want to write more Of Dogs and Writing posts I wondered if I could find a way to link them together. Which for some reason made me think of National Poetry Month and the project I have planned for this year and my Kickstarter idea for next year. Then I thought I should really write about exhibiting my art in a gallery for my very first show which has me alternately excited and petrified. (I don’t expect everyone to like my work, or to buy it – though that would be nice – but I sure hope I don’t overhear anyone talking negatively about it.) All that thinking reminded me that it was probably time to reread my three “go to” books:  Art and Fear, Callings, and The Creative Habit.

Keep in mind I had all these thoughts before I even got out of bed. That’s the way my mind works.

By afternoon I had checked in with a couple of friends, titled and priced my art for the show, worked on the cover of the art journal that is also going into the show and took Cassie to the vet. In-between times I spent in my chair in the corner of the library taking pictures of the birds and then later, I wandered around the garden and captured some great shots of a few newly blooming plants.

It was a busy day. I didn’t finish any one thing and yet I am profoundly happy. I saw some progress on a couple of projects. I jotted down ideas for an art series and some notes for a poem about Cassie, and brainstormed my Kickstarter poetry project.  I spent the day doing things I love.

I’m a lucky gal. I can finally not only recognize but accept that my life is always going to be a patchwork sort of life made of blocks of time devoted to the various things that interest me. Maybe that doesn’t make me an expert in any one thing. Or maybe it does.

I’m pretty good at being me.

Monday, February 20, 2012|Categories: Writing Life|Tags: , |17 Comments

Where do you read this blog? Other blogs?

Taking an informal survey here, mostly because I am contemplating some changes in my own blog reading habits, like moving everything, even my Livejournal stuff, into Google Reader.

So help me out here….where do you read this blog of mine or other blogs?

Here on LiveJournal?
On Facebook?
Google Reader?
Jacket Flap?
Other blog reader? (Please let me know which one.)

Sunday, August 16, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: |55 Comments

17 things I will probably blog about when I have the time to blog

Okay, so there really is no time to blog but I do keep a list of things I might blog about and thought I would share that in lieu of an update. In no particular order here are 17 things I will probably blog about when I have the time to blog again.


  1. Some books like WRITING IN FLOW: Keys to Enhanced Creativity, by Susan K. Perry, Ph.D. and THE FOUR AGREEMENTS by don Miguel Ruiz and maybe even the ones I’m supposed to be writing.
  2. Paint samples and the color blue and why I hate tile.
  3. My office overhaul and my fear of change fighting with my need to be in control fighting with (I hope not) the decorator bringing designs for review on Wednesday.
  4. My dog who used to like people a little more than she does now.
  5. Going on the Native Garden tour 2 weeks ago and working on my garden design and why I can’t have the swing I want in the backyard.
  6. My four day work week.
  7. Sleep (ain’t it great?)
  8. Fear of being a poet (Fred and Liz – I am claiming it already, really!)
  9. Bosses and the lack of and its effect on my environment.
  10. How to lose a phone.
  11. Wikis (as in Wikipedia but in my case, pbwiki and wikispaces and more)
  12. Biscuits.
  13. Getting to meet Kerry Madden (okay, so I totally never blogged about meeting Libba Bray and Shannon Hale, nor did I share pictures but I am meeting Kerry tomorrow night and will hope to blog about it.)
  14. Scrabulous (My name is Susan and I’m addicted to Scrabulous)
  15. Letting go of worrying about your kids (ha – don’t expect this to be a how to)
  16. Journals and notebooks and pens and other office supply obsessions
  17. Rituals for writing


Monday, April 28, 2008|Categories: Random|Tags: |8 Comments

Blog tours & snowflakes

Jim Averbeck, friend and recent Regional Advisor for my NORCA SCBWI region, has his first picture book coming out from Harcourt in April 2008. It’s called In a Blue Room and is illustrated by Tricia Tusa. The publicist at Harcourt wants to send Jim on a blog tour.  Since Jim is new to the idea of blogs and blog tours I told him I would throw the request out to the kidlitosphere and see if anyone wanted to get him signed up now for an event to help launch his book. Jim is an illustrator as well as an author and you can see more of his artwork on his website.

If you’d like to host Jim on a blog tour you can either contact him directly at kidlit    AT    springmail     DOT com or leave a note here in the comments and I’m happy to forward it on to him for you.

In other thoughts, did anyone else win a snowflake? I’m tickeld to learn that I did, indeed, win “Maude” by Ilene Richard. There’s something about the 3D ones that appeal to me – those authors thinking outside of the box.

Sunday, November 25, 2007|Categories: Random|Tags: |2 Comments

Why I don't blog more

If I were a more dedicated and more organized person I would blog every day. Of course if I were a more dedicated and more organized person I would probably write more which might mean I would publish more which could mean I would have even less time to blog. And if I were a REALLY dedicated and REALLY organized person I would eat better and exercise more and be an all-around healthier person.

Ha, like that’s going to happen!

I started this blog a year ago (yes, I had a blog anniversary last month and wasn’t even organized enough to celebrate it or acknowledge it) with the idea to record my writing life. I’ve never been good at keeping a paper journal and it appears I’m not doing a lot better with the online one. Thing is, I made a promise to myself to write about my writing life and try to keep my personal life (except as it relates to writing) out of it. Not that I don’t enjoy reading about other people’s adventures but the only part of my own life that is remotely interesting is my writing life. Sometimes there are weeks where it seems like I have no writing life. Working a fulltime job (as I know many writers do) means having to juggle my writing time. So I don’t blog and then I feel bad about not blogging and then I don’t blog some more and it becomes more of a vicious cycle. I know Dot and others have spoken a lot about guilt and blogging so there’s no need for me to go there. At one time I had this lofty vision of blogging a weekly essay about the writing life but for now I seem only able to cling to posting on poetry Friday.

Maybe I’ll try doing a roundup post of writing things. Like for the last two weeks it has been royalty time. That means I go home from work and check the mail, wondering if I will have a statement and then wondering when I open it if there will be a check in there. I still don’t have all the statements from all my books but I think it is a safe bet to say that with the money made from this royalty period I can either put gas in my car or take my husband out to a nice dinner, sans alcohol. Sigh. I knew there was no real money in the writing business but I really hate being reminded of it so forcefully every six months. Since it is too early to get a statement on Hugging the Rock I will allow myself to pretend that the next royalty period will be quite different.

I have been trying to work on a new project but there haven’t been enough blocks of time to do much writing. Most of it falls under the category of brainstorming, which is an important part of writing but still, I want to see words going down on the page. I have a couple of sentences, a good opening, but that’s it. I’m working up a talk for a school visit on Thursday and hoping that maybe I will finally hit upon a talk I can reuse so that each time I do this it isn’t brand new and a ton of work.

I am still looking for a new computer as the HP nc9430 I bought is on its way  back. Very frustrating to have the money for the computer and not be able to find one to buy. And I am preparing to move, which means packing over 5,000 books and the rest of our very cluttered household. It’s my hope that in the new place I will be able feel at home in the office. We’ve been in the current house for 2.5 years and I don’t think I wrote more than 10 pages in my office. It just never felt right. I’ve done most of my writing on the couch.

I’ll end with a question – what do you need to make your office feel “just right” as in right enough to write in?

Monday, October 16, 2006|Categories: Random|Tags: |7 Comments

How NOT to promote your book

MJ Rose is always a must-read blog for book publicity education but today is a must-read post anyone who is ever thinking about how to get their books into the hands of bloggers.

Sigh. First canned queries to agents and editors and now this.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006|Categories: Writing Life|Tags: , |11 Comments

The art of blogging, networking, and just plain being nice

Guy Kawasaki has an interesting post on the art of blogging. Okay, so he calls it how to suck up to a blogger and it seems to have pushed the buttons on a lot of people who left comments there.

I think it’s all about doing something nice for someone else BEFORE you need them to do something nice for you. Paying it forward. The Golden Rule.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever read was from Zig Zigglar who said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

Monday, February 20, 2006|Categories: Random|Tags: , |5 Comments

A rough draft for my life plan

 I’ve decided that a blog, for me, is a rough draft sort of thing. A place where I can spill my thoughts, try to tie them into some sort of sense, and then leave them there to simmer into something I can work with down the road. Sure, I should be able to do this in a notebook, and sometimes I do, but this blog has the focus of trying to help me take steps to live a literary life as well as define what a literary life means, for me. I’m also hoping it will help me find a focus, a voice, a definition of my writer-self. So I imagine that there will be fits and starts and bumps in the road.

In an ideal world a literary life means (to me) being able to work at my writing full-time. Since I live in the Silicon Valley where housing is outrageously expensive, that makes it tough. I could ask my husband to live in bad part of town where the environment seriously affects my ability to create (and not in a good way) but we’ve “been there, done that” and boy, that SO did not work. Which means I need to keep the DDJ where I work in the engineering department for a tech company. You might have guessed that has nothing to do with writing. And it is frustrating as heck. Go ahead, tell me how John Grisham wrote while he was working as a lawyer and any number of other famous writers, more famous than I could ever hope to be, did the same thing and I say, “Good for them.” I DO write while I balance the day job but it is not my ideal literary life and that is what I am trying to build. Maybe it is Pollyanaish of me to even imagine being able to do so while living here in the Silicon Valley (and moving out of the area is not an option) but Pollyana has worked for me over the years. She’s part of my “fake it til you make it” aresnal.

I love to write and I love the Internet and it seems to me that a writer ought to be able to combine her tech knowledge with her craft and make a living of sorts. That’s my plan. I am not so naive as to expect I stay home and write children’s books full-time and match my current salary. I know I need to work at many things and that’s okay. I just want them to be related to my career and not to building more widgets for a tech coblogginmpany. We have enough widgets in the world already, thank you very much. My thought is that it is time to get back to work on my adult book projects. One I could have back out in the mail in a week if I would just move it to the top of my list. (Note to self: finish BOR.) I love to speak but in order to make decent money at it with school visits I would need to do a lot of it which would mean taking the time off work (which cuts into my vacation) and right now that doesn’t seem like the best use of my time. I will be picky about the speaking gigs I take on right now merely because of the time investment required. I need to do more articles, maybe try some essays, branch out into other writing areas that appeal to me. But it is scary because it means starting over in a place where I am a beginner and have no connections. (sigh)

For now, the biggest project in front of me is still to finish the website redesign. Once that is launched I can promote it, and me, at the same time as well as my books and my writing workshops (taught online, of course) and anything else I can think of.

And that’s how it will happen. My literary life. Taking steps, little as they might be, toward my goal. One literary life step a day. That’s all I ask of myself-to do one thing every day that will help me live a literary life.

I feel like I need a pep talk. Time to go back and reread one of my favorite books Making a Literary Life by Carolyn See.

Write on, right now.

Previously posted on my original blog – Write on Right Now! 
I am moving all old post into this journal.

Sunday, May 8, 2005|Categories: Writing Life|Tags: , |0 Comments

Does this kind of writing count?

I can already see the temptation of blogging is going to be right up there with chocolate, day trips to Santa Cruz, and all the shows on the WB. Maybe if I wasn’t working a fulltime job AND trying to write new books AND trying to promote old books, well, maybe then it would make sense. But now, it makes no sense at all. Of course I’ve never let that stop me before so why start now?

I do need to budget my time though and hope I can get in the habit of writing first thing when I am at the DDJ (dreaded day job) at 6:30 in the morning and still trying to wake up. (I am SO not a morning person.) We’ll see. I’ve never kept a journal for any length of time so here’s hoping this will be different. Better somehow. My journals were probably pretty boring. Hmm, maybe that’s why I never kept up with them. Must keep the reader AND the writer interested in turning the pages. What I’m really hoping is that this will help me break down some of the walls I put up between myself and the words I head in my head so that I can pour out what is real.

I almost called this Blog ” 1 writer, 1 dog, and a lot of books ” just because I liked the sound of it but Write On Right Now is really what I am all about right now. I want to write. I need to write. And I am willing to play whatever mind games with myself in order to make it happen.

Okay, one goal of this is to help me record my steps on the path to lead a literary life. I try to do one thing every day that will help me in my career. It might only be a little thing, like sending an email about a publicity opportunity or following up on an interview for an article, but I have to do something related to my writing career every day or I start to feel like I am going nowhere because the DDJ sucks all the creativity out of me if I let it.

My current project isn’t actually writing but a complete website overhaul. New, updated design, interactive pages, writing exercises, brave writing workshops and a teaching guide database to help teachers use books in the classroom. I’m running behind schedule but I hope it will be up by the end of May. (Hence the race now to get the Blog up and running too.) I need to be done by then so I can get to work on the publicity for my new picture book, Oliver’s Must-Do List, coming out in the fall. (Note to self: find a suitable venue for the book launch.)

Literary Life Steps for Friday 5/6/05 1. Worked on the website. 2. Got this blog back up and running. 3. Worked on interview questions for article due on reluctant readers (Hi/Lo books). 4. Worked on interview questions for article on teaching guides. 4.

I’m done for. Bed calls but I know instead of falling asleep I’ll be thinking about what I should have said in this post or what I want to say in future posts.

Write on, right now.

Previously posted on my original blog – Write on Right Now!

Friday, May 6, 2005|Categories: Random|Tags: |0 Comments