Friday, May 6, 2016

I bought a chair.

I bought a chair. I wish I had time to take and post a picture, but I’m heading to Minneapolis today for the Children’s and Young Adult Literature Conference 2016 at The Loft, where I’ll speak about Activating Passive Language in Picture Books.

You’ll have to imagine the chair. Really, it’s a pretty standard office-type model—black with adjustable arms, seat, and back—and it fits me better than the dining room chair I’ve been using lately or the rummage sale varieties I used before that. I’ve needed a decent chair for a long time.

Last weekend’s mail brought a pleasant surprise in the form of a larger-than-I-expected royalty check. Of course, I’ll pay some bills. Of course, I’ll set something aside for the future. But I knew right away what I would spend some of my hard-earned money on.

I bought a chair.

In this series of Teaching Author posts, we’re discussing writer’s block. In previous posts on the topic, Mary Ann described her Work in Progress as the Scariest Thing on Earth. Bobbi explained some theories about writers block. Lately, I’ve found inspiration here and here and especially here.

Some people insist that writer’s block doesn’t exist. I wish I were in that camp, but I’ve experienced it myself too often. I wish I could tell you how to solve it. Walking helps me a lot. So do Morning Pages. And as I realized this week, so does money.

Believe me, I know how lucky I am to be able to pursue writing as a career. (Gratitude helps, too!) But in those long gaps between royalty statements, it can be hard for me to stay motivated if the work itself is the only reward. I wish money didn’t matter, but it does. In spite of all my years of effort, that check (probably not a big deal in some people’s bank accounts) felt like a gift. It lifted a weight and reminded me that anything can happen. It made me remember why I do this work after all—certainly not for the money.

So I bought a chair, both because I needed it and because I needed to make a commitment to writing again. Boy, this was a tough winter. But we persevered, didn’t we?

Walking helped.

Morning Pages helped.

Gratitude helped.

And now that I finally have a comfortable chair that fits me, nothing can hold me back from the best work I’ve ever done.
I bought myself a brand-new perch—
a chair that doesn’t tip or lurch,
grumble, grind, collapse, or creak,
or drop with just a warning squeak.
So if you need me, I’ll be there,
writing in my writing chair. 
Don’t forget to enter our Seventh Blogiversary Book Giveaway! You could win the updated edition of Carmela Martino’s middle-grade historical fiction novel Rosa, Sola.

Sylvia Vardell has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Poetry for Children. Enjoy!

JoAnn Early Macken


Jane Heitman Healy said...

Sounds as if you are back in the saddle again, JoAnn! Congratulations on the chair and your renewed passion for writing.

Carmela Martino said...

Hooray for surprise income and your new chair, JA! Hope your presentation goes well.

Linda B said...

That chair will remind you again and again that writing is "worth" it, good feelings and money, too. I'm glad you no longer have a chair that "drops with just a warning squeak"!

jan godown annino said...

dear JoAnn!
Yay! for this fun poem. And for rolling back into more writing.
I know you didn't write this just for me, but skee!
I make do with a dining rm. chair that scrapes,
for years this has been going on, since my office-type rollie one died.
Time to roll once more, with your modeling for me.
You inspire.

Bobbi Miller said...

I can't wait to see a picture of this chair!! Lovely, lovely all around!

Sylvia Vardell said...

Thank you for joining in our Poetry Friday gathering. I can totally relate to your musings about your chair-- being valued-- being surprised by royalties-- by needing something practical that also supports your dreams! Keep on...

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Thanks, everyone! I'm back from an inspiring conference at The Loft in Minneapolis, a visit with relatives nearby, and a happy Mother's Day dinner with our sons on the way home. Yes, I am sitting in my new chair--or as Jane said, back in the saddle! Marti, the presentation went well & continued into overtime with a good discussion about many aspects of writing. Linda, yes, I hope the chair will keep on being a reminder of all the young reasons I write. Jan, I'm glad you liked the poem. Join me in the New Chair Club! Bobbi, I'll have to work on that photo!

Esther Hershenhorn said...

Congrats, JoAnn, on receiving those royalties and spending them so wisely.
A royalty-subsidized chair = a writer's throne, yes? :)

April Halprin Wayland said...

JoAnn ~ you made me feel tenderness towards a chair. A CHAIR. Now THAT's a real writer.