Sunday, October 19, 2008


Okay WRITERS - this is it. The 2009 Thurber House Children's Author in Residence is now accepting YOUR applications!

Why would you want to apply? Well, unless you don't need 4 weeks of uninterrupted writing time, your own apartment in the historic home of one of America's funniest Writer/Cartoonists, and the opportunity of a lifetime - let me try and help with some possible reasons...

See that house? That's where James Thurber lived - the house he immortalized in his hysterical book "My Life And Hard Times". That attic (where the bed "fell on father") will be your apartment home for 4 AMAZING WEEKS of creative YOU time - where, without distractions (other than possible ghost sightings) you will write and edit and dream of fabulous new ideas yet to come.

Your attic apartment - cozy and clean - will welcome you as you set up a writing space that makes you feel like it's all about YOU (which for 4 weeks - it is!). Note: desk provided - computer and toys are all mine!

But take it from me - the Residency is way more than just your personal Writing Time....

You get to work with the creative geniuses at the Thurber Writing Camp - being inspired by their enthusiasm as you get to brainstorm with the best!

You'll be able to attend the delicious and casual Thurber House Literary Picnics held on the lovely lawn of YOUR house!

Meatloaf. Yes, I had the best meatloaf while in Columbus. And I attended the Jazz and Ribs Festival too - another fine culinary indulgence (that I over-did!). So if you aren't a vegetarian - this is obviously the Residency for you. (If you are a vegetarian there are ample options for your dining pleasure as well: my fave was the North Star Cafe - I loved their Buddha Bowl!)

The House is YOUR house...especially in the dark of night when you get to wander the rooms and breathe in the Thurber-air that inspired me on a daily (and nightly) basis. Remember - you are LIVING in THURBER'S HOUSE!...The reminders are everywhere!

Banjos. No - the Thurber Residency does not come with a banjo. But if you want to drive to Chillicothe you can hang around Bob's Banjo Barn, where on Saturdays they have a little bluegrass jam in the back room. (confession: I can play 1 song on a banjo - and though this little 5-string made even my one lame diddy sound great - I didn't buy it!)

Another really good reason to apply is that apart from the ALONE time you carve for yourself - you will be surrounded by the nicest most supportive people. The staff of the Thurber House - from the Directors to the Volunteers will make you smile daily...and sometimes provide you with clean sheets!

There are few experiences I can really point to as "game changers" in my life. (Yes - switching schools in 4th grade where from Day One I was called "Plumpso" still sticks in my mind.) But my 4 weeks this past summer as the Children's Author in Residence was and always will be a moment in time that gave me so much more than I could possibly give back in return.

Apart from being given the time to finish my new best friend .....

I feel I have made some other friends for life - and discovered parts of me that didn't yet know they existed.

So what are you waiting for? Go APPLY now! Then you too can come face to face with the James Thurber legacy - and join the ranks of those who were given the opportunity of a lifetime!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I don't know about you but after a grueling day staring at the blinking cursor (you know the one) sometimes I need to let myself off the hook and simply allow my hard-working soul to control-alt-delete the day. Literally - it's a write-off!

It's hard enough to stay focused sometimes - and harder still to allow for those times when a wandering mind is better than the one sitting at my desk. Why is it we need real excuses to be "granted permission" to goof off?

"My kid is sick and needs to get picked up at school?" - Drop everything!
"The mailman's at the door with a package?" - Hit save!
"The View is on?" - Turn computer OFF.

I think it needs to be OKAY for us to let procrastination be part of the process - and if that means giving ourselves the thumbs-up to go for a walk....or a drive...or a walk through the donut aisle...then gosh darnit - it has to be done! And without guilt. Or the backlash from the task-master part of the brain ready to lash out against any "non-typing" activity.

So pick a procrastination card - any card and let yourself go. It's not only healthy - it might give you a great that hopefully will involve donuts!

Friday, October 10, 2008


Okay Writers - here's the deal: Yes, we hear voices. But remember - we're not CRAZY. We're "CREATIVE"!

To me "I hear voices" has become the "I see dead people" secret that I carry around to help make sense of my world.

I can handle the voices that just go on and on babbling in character about mundane life stuff or what flavor ice cream they (the character) should eat in the next chapter. This BABBLE-VOICE I can tune out no problemo. It's the OTHER voice that drives me nuts - the one that suddenly just SHOWS UP like a loud unwanted guest who only brings a stale coffee cake.

I acknowledge that all voices help us work on creative problems - our characters want to break through to the other side and communicate something fresh and new, a hopeful insight or astonishing plot-pointed twist!

But I'm not good with spontaneity in any part of my life - and these sudden subconscious arrivals are not always helpful especially when I'm not in the best place to listen: like when I'm slicing veggies with the sharpest knife we own or I'm walking down a flight of stairs carrying a heavy laundry basket on my mission of making the whites whiter. Sure I'm always thankful for the help - but really, why does this voice have to give me a shout out now? Is it so I have something to think about while waiting for the paramedics to arrive because I am now at the bottom of the stairs laying in a pile of dirty socks and underwear?

Don't get me wrong - like you, I make a living hearing voices and I wouldn't have it any other way. (Sometimes the only one I talk to all day is inside my brain!) It's just sometimes I wish I could get a little warning that it's time to listen - maybe a post card with an ETA or a formal invitation with an RSVP might be nice.

But no matter what I wish for - I know the voices are on their own timetable and have their own agendas and sometimes need to shock me so I really pay attention no matter what vein I have just sliced while trying to dice carrots.

I guess it's a small price to pay for good ideas and forward movement in the work I love so much.