Thursday, 5 February 2009


Once upon a time, my kids (and my class) had a wonderful, well-loved book by Richard Scarry called “What Do People do All Day?”, where the newspaper-editor pig sat at his typewriter, wearing his eyeshade. Was there also a large lady hippo, lying on a sofa, with a scroll and a bunch of grapes by her side, or is that just the illusion so many people have of the writer's life?

For those interested in such details, my TO DO list today is something like this:

*Contact four separate schools to speak to a member of staff about sessions and schedules for a writing project. (Last week I did leave a number and message at two of the schools, but they haven’t rung back yet. )
*Reply & negotiate with a school who sent a detailed visit outline, but which doesn’t fit the way I work or distance I have to travel.
*Reply to three emails asking me if I am free on World Book Day, please. (I’m not.)
*And asking could I give full details of what I do, and how much I charge. (The answer is in the Author Visit section of my website.)
*Contact the organiser of an event where my audience that was 3 sessions for Early Years & Reception classes is now 4 sessions for 60 babies and toddlers and parents and carers.
*Contact a writer I met yesterday, forwarding some urgent information before I forget.
*Contact a Festival Organiser urgently about needing accommodation. And also a librarian.
*Emails/cards of thanks to three librarians, two schools, and someone at the BBC.
*Email a publicity picture and personal “blurb” to a festival organiser.
*Create two invoices & post.
*Renew my “Visiting Author” Insurance.
*Calculate mileage for an event where the finance has to be applied for beforehand.
*Check multimap for directions to an imminent event. This is not something you leave to the night before, especially in this weather. (Luckily they have a new detailed print-out showing all the junctions en route.)
*Check multimap for directions to the four schools at the start of this list, and then work out a realistic starting time for the days.(Unluckily, multimap still gives timings that are about two-thirds of the time needed.)
*Unpack, check and repack my “Talk-Bags” of books & rough proofs and so on that accompany my visits.
*Look over a revised short text an editor has worked on, and comment.
*Contact editor with a requested story idea for an anthology.
*Wash wearable clothes, as I now have nowt that I could go visiting in.
*And do some of that . . . what’s it called now? . . . ah, yes! WRITING WORK!

Sorry if this sounds crabby. I do know how hard it is to organise all that an event needs, or to get a whole school staff to agree their sessions, and I do like doing all kinds of visits and being with children, but sometimes the admin seems to take up all my usable time. However, with publishers taking months to get contracts and money sorted, sometimes it’s the need for real cash that counts. Grouch over. Dilemma still existing.

So what can I leave till tomorrow, so I can write today??? Well, there’s that ABBA posting . . .


Mary Hoffman said...

Your post fills me with horror and reminds me why I don't (usually) do school visits! Point taken about the dosh though.

And good luck with finding any school pen for business today!

Lucy Coats said...

Oh my god! 'Visiting Author' insurance. I didn't even know such a thing existed. (Reminder to self. Panic. ) Now I've got another thing to add to MY list for the day!

Penny said...

In fact, Mary, having grumbled enough on ABBA, I've now just decided "Bother it!" and am working away on my revision till at least one-o'clock.

Sorry to panic you, Lucy. Dodn't bother with insurance until I accidentally dropped a new hard-cornered book very close to the face of a young child who'd shuffled forward to sit at my feet, but beneath the book. That time was okay, but next? The Society of Authors can give you contact details.

Damian Harvey said...

Balancing time is definately one of the things I find most difficult (the other one being money of course) - and the frantic list you've made doesn't even touch on the demands that home life makes.

I really would look into that sat nav though Penny - I find it a great time and worry saver.

adele said...

I remember that Richard Scarry book! And one called Blackfinger Wolf. Marvellous fun they were. Anyone recall the lovely LOWLY WORM??

Penny said...

Loved Lowly Worm! They were wonderfully sociable books, big enough for a gang of little boys (usually!)to gather around and plenty of pictures to chat about with each other. Three cheers for the warm wit of Richard Scarry on a cold snowy day!

(And I have just begun looking at satnav information,Damian. It's on my To Do list . . . Oh!

Mary Hoffman said...

I agree a hundred percent about Satnav! I wouldn't go to any new place unaccompanied without Tim the TomTom and neither would husband or daughter.

Anonymous said...

Is that all? (Only joking.)

I once had to stand and watch Caroline Lawrence clamber on to rickety table on school stage to fix something. I said that as the star she shouldn't risk life and limb, but Caroline pointed out she was the one who was insured...

Our SatNav (Emma) gets very upset with us ignoring all her stupid suggestions of where to drive. When we get very close to home and where we can only turn left to get there, she suggests a right turn. Wrong side of the railway line, if nothing else.

Ms. Yingling said...

Hopefully, the time you spend with students can energize you when you hit a creative block. You can think about all of their shining faces looking forward to your next WIP and keep going.

After, of course, you put some socks in to dry!

Anne Rooney said...

Thank you for this reminder of why I don't do school visits, just as I was thinking maybe it wouldn't be *too* bad... And Lowly worm - yes! We even have a toy Lowly that I bought in a strange shop somewhere in San Francisco.