Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A Productive Day

Goodness, this was a productive day. I:

  • bought my airline ticket for the Missouri Writers Guild conference in Kansas City at the end of April
  • discussed the conference with the lovely Christine Taylor-Butler and worked out what I'll be talking about when
  • went over the mechanicals for a spring 2007 picture book
  • finalized the flap copy for the same book
  • reran the financial and production figures on a foreign book we're hoping to acquire
  • read 150 pages of a manuscript in the office (a miracle!)
  • sent e-mail responses to a bunch of foreign publishers regarding some books we'd been considering
  • finished my annual pre-Bologna Children's Book Fair report to Arthur about all the foreign books we've seen since the previous year's Bologna
  • completed and filed both my state and federal taxes, courtesy of (I am not ashamed to admit I chose this company because it had the word "Slayer" in its name. If it's good enough for Buffy, it's good enough for me.)
  • worked on the revisions to my Asilomar plot talk, in hopes of having it up on the website before I go to my next SCBWI conference at the end of the month
  • drafted the informational postcard for the New York Carleton Club community-service project at the end of April (we'll be participating in Hands On New York Day on the 22nd if you'd like to join us)
  • And now, wrote a blog post celebrating all this good and virtuous work.
Incidentally, while I was reviewing the picture-book mechs, I spent three minutes struggling with one copyediting query: Was the phrase more effective as "half a world away" (as the copyeditor suggested) or "half the world away" (as the manuscript said)? Half "a" world is less definite, more poetic, implying multiple worlds and endless possibilities, while half "the" world is earthbound, mundane, with only one world, whose circumference you know. . . . The author lives in Australia, so she wasn't available for immediate consultation, and the mechs needed to go back to the designer by the end of the day, so I had to make a decision.

In the end I left it "half the world," because the phrase is spoken by the main character's father, and he's meant to be pragmatic and unimaginative. But it was very much an Oscar-Wilde-comma moment: "I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again."


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Definitely "half the world", because in this case, “smaller” reads as “larger”.

    “Half a world” is more of a cliché, so it reads as not very big, at least in my mind, taking up the same mental space as “to infinitely and beyond” or “forever and a day” which means for most people a few hours past tea time…whereas “half the world” is something my little stuffed bunny brain can wrap itself around.

    “Half the world away” may be just this planet but it isn’t by a long shot a world most people know…. It’s all those places that you’ve never been to, like Timbuktu or Tierra del Fuego. I’m instantly thinking train travel and Phineas Fogg.

    Good for you for getting piles of stuff done!

    “God is in the details”


  3. Why didn't you go with the oh-so-poetic "approximately 12,450 miles away"? It's factual, accurate, and has a comma!


    Someone who should be sleeping

  4. Looking forward to your talk in KC!

    Will it be on the MWG schedule as a sign-up, or part of the general program?


    Sascha Zuger

  5. I agree with the "half the world" decision, especially since it is a line from the book.

    Busy, busy, busy . . . so when do you sleep? ;)

    Congrats on accomplishing so much. Are you sure you have the same 24 hours a day as the rest of us?

    And may I just say LOL about gregory's reply!

  6. Now this is truly interesting - the detailed 'mechanicals' of a picture book would be a welcomed post.

    Yes, "half the world" feels right - it's THIS world after all, not just any world.

  7. I love that quote by Oscar Wilde. To know he had frustrating writing days too is a comfort.

  8. Sascha, to answer your question: I am apparently giving a short keynote on the first night to the whole conference, and then speaking just to children's writers on Saturday. I don't know whether the latter is a special signup or not.