On a typical day, I’m up and at my laptop before 8:30 a.m., which is remarkable because I’m by nature a very late-night person. I used to write rough drafts only between midnight and 4 a.m., but I’ve modified that recently, shifting to daylight hours so I can spend more time with my very cute husband and sometimes co-author, Greg Leitich Smith.
I try to post to my blog, Cynsations, which appears at Blogger, LiveJournal, and MySpace (and is syndicated to Facebook, JacketFlap), etc. by 9 a.m. The posts are generally pre-formatted in advance, which helps enormously.
Then I add a little note to the Facebook syndication post of Cynsations, which appears on both my regular and “like” pages, read/skim other folks’ blogs for links to include in my Friday round-up, and tweet my own new posts. Along the way, I respond to email and other communications via my various social networks. I also retweet, comment, and otherwise make an effort to participate in the online conversation of books.
I know it sounds like a lot. But that’s not unusual for a full-time writer these days. I write for teenagers, so I live where they live, on the Internet. Also, when I quit my law job to write full time, my commitment went beyond my own books. I’m interested in what other writers are doing and what’s going on in the industry. I like to spread good news. It satisfies the part of me that once planned to be a journalist. Some people garden, I link!
It may take until 11 a.m. to finish all of that, and then I’m on to media interviews—up to three a week. I respond to queries about the full range of children’s-YA books, from picture books to young adult novels. I’m also frequented asked about marketing, in part because I was one of the first really active authors on the Web.
Unless I have a special event or MFA student manuscripts to grade (I’m on the faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults), I spend my afternoon writing. I love that my laptop allows me to migrate around the house. When I really need to spread out, it’s not unusual to find me at the dining room table. I often work on screen and on paper at the same time.
If I’m reading to revise my work, though, I might instead plop–belly first–onto the bed, where, if I’m lucky, I might be joined by a cat or three. Or four.
My house features a number of reminders of my writing life, especially as related to community.
This gnome statue in the garden was a gift from author Libba Bray, who purchased it as a symbolic/inspiration object when she was working on the first draft of Going Bovine (Delacorte) at a summer workshop at my house.
This eagle feather was a gift from one of my mentees, Kim Rogers, and hangs in my library. Greg comes in from his day job as a patent attorney sometime after 5 p.m., and then we relax for an hour or two and have dinner (he cooks, not me) before writing for another couple of hours—sometimes more.
For me, that time sometimes goes to my manuscript in progress and sometimes goes to grading or online correspondence or event preparation. I’ve been speaking out of town a lot lately—Springfield, Illinois; Houston, San Antonio, a Native reservation in California, and have events in Boston, Orlando, and Albuquerque coming up. That requires a lot of prep time.
Finally, I tend to read before going to bed. I used to read a novel a day (or a stack of picture books) but an increasingly busy schedule has slowed me down. Still, it’s not unusual to find me immersed in someone else’s story after 10 p.m. And gratefully so!