3 Reasons everyone needs sleep

While completing any major project — whether it’s a writing project or Pesach cleaning — it’s very tempting to burn the midnight oil. Sometimes it’s not the threat of missing the deadline that keeps you going until the wee hours; it’s the simple excitement of the flow state.

Just say no. The writing you do late at night is probably not your best, anyway. It reminds me of being around drunks or people high on marijuana: they think they’re being witty and hilarious, when really they just sound like idiots. Lack of sleep will leave you stoned.

You might insist that it’s worth it: you’re a night owl or you’re being courted by the muse. Okay. Maybe if you are truly a night owl, you can handle this. But then you better wake up after ten a.m.

Why? Here are 3 reasons for writers to hit the sack at a decent hour:

  1. You will not be able to function well the next day. Remember, you will have work to do then, also. Small tasks will feel overwhelming and unmanageable. For example, if you write an extra hour tonight, you might loose two or three hours of writing the next day. Or you might miss errors when you proofread because of lack of focus.
  2. Your dreaming mind may generate solutions to problems, creative ideas for your work, and gel previously distinct thoughts into a coherent whole. You don’t want to miss out on these gems.
  3. You become negative when you suffer from sleep debt. You argue. You see things with a negative spin. Rejection letters are harder to take. You respond too quickly and harshly to emails. You turn positive stories on their heads. Writing will be frustrating rather than invigorating.

And now, I’m headed to bed. Feel free to share any deadline/all-nighter horror stories you may have experienced in the comments.

Exploring other media to conquer writer’s block

So, earlier this week, I had a case of the blahs. I suppose I didn’t technically have writer’s block–the problem was more that I didn’t want to do anything, not that I couldn’t write–but the results were the same.

My muddle

My best friend phoned. I told her my sad story. I didn’t want to write. I felt uncreative and just foggy in the head. She suggested I do something different, maybe go for a walk. Just don’t even try to write. Reboot.

The way out

For some reason, I’ve been getting back into art gradually over the last year. As a child and teen, I loved art, but like many people quit when I realized my mediocrity.

poem collage

My collage poem.

I’ve been taking a lot of photos lately, even framing them and displaying them in my home. I’ve done a bit of sketching, as well, although that tends to send me back to a place where all I see is my lack of skill instead of getting pleasure from exercising what skill I have.

Anyway, after my phone call, I was itching to make a collage. I didn’t give into the itch right away, but as my kids settled in for homework this evening, I grabbed a couple magazines and a pair of scissors.  Continue reading

Is poetry as we know it dead? Goldsmith speculates the “meme machine” has taken over.

This week, The New Yorker book blog published a post by Kenneth Goldsmith about the proliferation of rather un-poetic  “poetry” spreading across the internet. He writes:

[T]he Canadian media scholar Darren Wershler…has been making some unexpected connections between meme culture and contemporary poetry. “These artifacts,” Wershler claims, “aren’t conceived of as poems; they aren’t produced by people who identify as poets; they circulate promiscuously, sometimes under anonymous conditions; and they aren’t encountered by interpretive communities that identify them as literary.”

…It’s not uncommon to see blogs that recount someone’s every sneeze since 2007, or of a man who shoots exactly one second of video every day and strings the clips together in time-lapsed mashups. Continue reading

It’s the week of Shavuos!

Things have been a bit crazy in the Klempner household as of late. We’re already in the week of the Jewish holiday of Shavuos, the subject of my picture book, A Dozen Daisies for Raizy.

A few weeks ago, in honor of the 5th anniversary of Raizy, I asked librarians, teachers, and parents about how they’ve reacted to Raizy. Here are some of the responses:

From fabulous librarian Davida Levin, of the Torah Day School of Atlanta:

I love using the book every Shavuos with my K-2 library groups, and was delighted that several of the 1st and 2nd grade girls said that they also own the book.

This year we talked about what the daisies meant to the recipient and decided that they meant “I like you” or “I care about you”. The second graders were able to  say that the flowers were a reminder of Raizy’s invitation or offer of help.  This year I gave the girls the attached pages to fill in during check out time–one even suggested that you could send them to Hashem, but another was sure that Hashem can make His own flowers.

Here’s a copy of the handout she used. Feel free to borrow it, but give credit to Davida, okay?
Regular Binah and Inyan writer Rochel Burstyn says of Raizy:
I worked a few years ago in a playgroup and it was one of the kiddies’ favorite and the only ‘long’ one I could sit through!
Another fan of Raizy, Chani Fischman, wrote me to say:[m]y daughter has brought your book, A Dozen Daisies for Raizy, home from her school library a few times and we’ve enjoyed reading it together at bedtime. I like the fact that 1. The book is not too wordy (I hate wordy children’s books) 2. The pictures are vivid. 3. Subtraction becomes so clear to children without them realizing that they are actually doing a mathematical operation.

Last year, I gave out a couple craft ideas to create daisies for Shavuos following a school visit I did here in L.A. Here are a few more last-minute ideas, with an emphasis on projects that are particularly kid-friendly and can be done mostly with stuff you can find around the house:

daisy craft

Recycled kid’s project for Shavuos.

Have a great holiday everyone!

When good things happen to anxious people: the beginning of a new project

parakeet, lineated

I hope I say something original, for once.

I’m close to wrapping a piece for a magazine, and I’m waiting on the opinions of some of the beta readers of one of my WIPs, so Friday morning, I started rummaging though my old journals for some new-old project ideas. Among my scribbling, I found notes about a folktale that really appealed to me. A little research has indicated that there is only one picture book retelling of this story. Which is why, for the first time, I’m attempting a folktale retelling.

Good for me, right? It’s good to try something new, right? Continue reading