Sunday, October 09, 2005

Back in Australia. Weather brisk and sunny, not as cold as I feared. Either that or I am still retaining inner warmth from my trip. Bones not coping well with the long flight home. I began seizing up around Hour no. 5 and still feel like someone attacked my hips with a hammer. I know they say to get up and walk around in the plane, but that is easier said than done when the aisles are narrow and there is nowhere much to go except around and up and down, annoying people. I had an exit seat (which means the flight attendants ask you if you are willing to help people get out of the plane if it crashes - oh yes, of course, you say, while wondering how likely it is that you will still be alive yourself) so plenty of leg room for exercises. However, 13 hours of sitting in one place tends to make the body groan.
No movies worth watching again so I read and read and read, ending up with scratchy eyes but it passed the time. Also managed a bit of sleep. I seem to remember flying to the US a few years ago and being fed about 4 times until I thought I would explode (when bored, it is always a diversion to eat, even when not hungry). Now you get 2 meals, and a snack halfway through the night if you are desperate. I have never been served meatloaf on a plane before and never wish to again. But the breakfast pancakes were quite edible.
Kristi and I packed in more writing and talking about writing and critiquing and discussion and reading in 5 days than I've ever had. I think we both found it inspiring and I hope we can also use what we gained to help us into better writing "mindsets". We both experience the dilemma of teaching (as a regular income) and then finding that it drains us for writing. And also the dilemma of needing at times to sell work and trying to balance that with writing the "heart" books.
Publishing has changed in the past ten years. She has been publishing longer than me, and agrees that things are more difficult, especially the aspect of knowing where you are with a publisher. Often your editor leaves, or there are cutbacks, or a change of direction - no one tells you what is going on, or if they try, it may be inaccurate. So you are left hanging in the wind, waiting for a contract that may never come, even after having verbal offers made and dates set. It all can disappear in a week. At least I have not had the experience of having a book of mine published without my permission (or a contract).
These kinds of experiences for authors (effects of changes at publishers) seem to be such a common occurrence now. Witness the changes and upheaval at Simon & Schuster children's publishing over the past few months.
Enough of this philosophising! I have done a lot of clothes washing, half of my class preparation for this week, opened a foot-high pile of mail, caught up on most emails and restocked the cupboards with fresh food. Now if I could train my brain to stop waking up at 3am, thinking it's time to get up, I will be OK.

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