48 days, day 1

{{ I am chronicling 48 days of writing before my July 31 travel. If you are chronicling your summer writing/days and would like to share, please link or comment so we can all cheer one another through. Strength to your sword arm! }}

I have 48 days until I step on a plane to attend the SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles, where I will gratefully accept the Golden Kite Award for REVOLUTION! So stoked about that. I'm also teaching a workshop (here is the whole conference schedule): "Structuring Your Novel: Providing a Scaffold For Your Plot." Y'all come!

In the meantime, in this Year of Exploration, I have 48 days to write and I'm going to use them. I want to catalog them here, so I can see, as I step onto that plane on July 31, just what I have accomplished. Last year (and right up to June 1 this year) was so jam-packed with REVOLUTION travel as well as work in schools and at conferences and with family and more... so much travel. All good. But not much time to write.

And, as you may have surmised through the recent Picture Book Intensive I participated in, I want to write picture books. And, as you may know if you're a reader here or have read COUNTDOWN and REVOLUTION, I have a third book in the sixties trilogy to deliver. I have given myself a year to get the draft of book three to David at Scholastic. I had better get hopping.

So let me chronicle the next 48 days (day 1, yesterday, is below), and let's see if I can jump-start my fall writing (I'm home more this fall than I have been in years), by declaring a writing retreat of sorts, at home, with the great wash of family and friends and garden and summer that flows through days at home, loving that and yet finding a way -- I hope -- to work well here, and see what happens.

One thing to note: After the PB Intensive, I finished a draft of the Robert Kennedy book I have sold to Scholastic. They kept it a while (um... years) and made some suggestions for revision which didn't resonate for me. I kept it a while (um... years), trying to figure out another way in that would satisfy us both. The power of writers reading their work to one another is what broke open my thinking and got me past seventeen drafts that Did Not Work. Thank you, Laurel Snyder, for the suggestion you made during the PB Intensive that broke the revision dam for me and got me back to the page.

Handing in a revision is so exciting! Let's see what Scholastic says about it. I hope to hear soon.

Day 1: Friday, June 12, 2015

My childrens' dad died on May 11. The funeral was postponed so we could all go to Colorado for son Zach's graduation from the University of Colorado at Denver. We were there from May 15-19, living together in the same rented house, where we started the process of healing from that wound... a process I'll document at some point. We are doing well, I think, and are pointed forward now. Zach flew home on Monday, June 8, and Abby came for annual summer camp at Grandma and Grandpa's on Tuesday, June 9.

Abby left yesterday after spending three days here for summer camp. We went to the library. We read So Many Books (my discoveries, here). So today was for organizing for the next 48 days. I gathered manuscripts I want to work on -- picture books. Some of them I read to Janie when she was here for the PB Intensive Work-Along we did together last month. Some of them I tossed! I began working on a story about Rachel Carson. The other mss are dotting the floor around my chair. How many can I get to in 48 days? I have a draft of Rachel dated 1999. I have many other drafts, none of which work. I know the story I want to tell. Armed with what I learned in the Intensive, I'm going to move forward.

I've weeded some of the older mss in my stash, and I've kept some... the ones that I love, the ones that went to committee at different publishers years ago. Some have partial drafts and lots of research. Some are biographies. Some are just ideas.

I also researched Book 3 of the Sixties Trilogy. I have a draft started that I do not like (nothing new). I am being pulled to move the story from 1968 to 1969, which will open a can of worms for me, especially if I move it from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I just cannot get excited about SF for some reason. I also am having trouble with 1968 because that year covers So Much Ground. Assassinations, riots, war, the breadth of rock-and-roll (finally)... not that I'm averse to all that, but I'm having trouble grounding the reader in one place. So there's that to wrestle as well.

I've been saying, "two pages a day on book three, and I'll have a draft in a year." I'm not sure I can be that prescriptive.

I made green smoothies. A homemade meal in the middle of the day. Spinach salad with blueberries, baked potatoes (white and sweet). Popcorn. Steamed broccoli. I watered the new yard we're putting in, took progress photos of the front and back yard coming together. Most photos of the days I keep are currently on Instagram.

So lots is swirling. I also caught up with social media. Stayed up late researching and reading.

Let's see how day 2 goes.



  1. Thanks Deborah - It is helpful to follow your working process. I am struggling to stay focused so it is nice to see how others find the balance in their work.

    I am starting and stopping with several projects so hope to find my way this week as I week my garden and write. Below is the link to my last post about writing.


    1. Thanks, Joanne. I read your post and commented. Focus is hard, isn't it? Yet, when we get lost in the work, we look up hours later, realizing that's all we were doing -- focusing. It helps to write about your passions...

  2. Debbie, you continue to inspire! I'm remembering back to the VCFA master class - one of the very very best! Chronicling summer writing might just be what I need to actually get something done. I've got a bit of travel first, but I hope to join in this venture next month. There are all those PB manuscripts/ideas that could really benefit from the PB Intensive discussions, but I also have a first draft of a MG novel that has been waiting. What to do?

    1. Same to you, Joyce. Inspiration goes both ways. Check in when you can and I'll do the same. Doesn't have to be this particular 48 days. I just happen to have them ahead of me without commitments (A FIRST), and so am going to use them. Thank you for your kind words. I loved the VCFA class. Isn't it a great good thing in the world, VCFA.. xoxo Debbie


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