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Author Gail Gauthier's Reflections On Children's Books, Writing, And The Kidlit World
1. Working All The Time

I rarely work on weekends. It's not that I don't want to. One of the drawbacks of being on Facebook is that I do see other writers posting about putting in X number of hours on a Saturday or writing X number of pages on Sunday or just getting ready to hunker down with work on a weekend afternoon, and, believe it or not, I feel...not envious, but frustrated that I can't do it, too. But some would argue (and I am "some") that writers are working all the time, anyway, so it's all good.

Today I was up at 7:00 AM ironing an outfit for a family event tomorrow, then I went on to getting clean clothes out of the workshop (don't ask), cleaning a bathroom, putting clean sheets on a bed, stuffin' a chicken, pulling more crap off the kitchen counter, dusting the stairs...that's what I can remember off the top of my head. No thought about working at all. Then I had to rush to take a shower because I was late getting started to go visit an elder.

Once I was under the hot water, my mind wandered to this quite wonderful new first chapter I've written for a manuscript I'm very fond of but haven't been able to interest anyone else in. I've been revising it as an adult book so that I will have a whole new world of rejection opportunities. I did this totally new chapter to add on at the beginning as a first chapter. Oh, it is so very, very marvelous.

But, I realized a couple of days ago, it is also so very, very cliched. It is your classic family gathering for a funeral, which triggers an entire book/movie of memory. I've been trying to tell myself that that might not be a bad thing. I've been thinking lately that maybe people like cliches and stereotypes. I do not mean that in a jaded, Oh, you-cannot-underestimate-the-reading-public way. I've been thinking a lot recently about stories, what they actually are, and their significance to human experience. And I have been wondering if maybe stereotypical patterns are something that we like, that there is some comfort in recognizing the expected.

But not for me. I always like to be surprised. So I have been worried about what I believe is my stellar but cliched funeral chapter. Not this morning, though. I wasn't thinking about it at all this morning. I had that chicken to stuff. You don't want to be thinking about something else while you're shoving handfuls of soggy bread into a dead bird carcass.

Imagine my surprise, then, when, while in the shower, a new first chapter came to me. This will be a chapter that will do what the funeral first chapter did, but will also fit in with other events in the story. It will parallel the ending, even. The funeral chapter, in addition to be a cliche, sort of came out of nowhere.

Okay, I still have to write the chapter, and I may not get to that until Tuesday. But, still, Facebook Friends, I worked today!


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