Saturday, September 3, 2011

Low-Hanging Fruit

In my plan to start turning my energies to my professional writing (I will no longer say "real" writing, as I have been corrected - blog writing is real!), I started, as I always do, with low-hanging fruit. I am a huge fan of low-hanging fruit, where I can reach out my hand and pluck it, just like that.

I have two children's literature essays in my work pile. One has never yet been submitted for publication (I gave it at the Children's Literature Association conference in Roanoke last year); one has been submitted and returned to me as a revise-and-resubmit, with comments considerably less scathing than my norm (probably because the reviewer is a friend - reviews are supposed to be double-blind, but the field is small enough that sometimes the foremost expert in a tiny sub-field can't help but know everyone else in that same tiny sub-field; that said, the comments were extensive, probing, demanding - but kindly worded, for a change!).

So yesterday I faced both of those projects. For the first one, I had planned to do some fairly substantive expanding and revising before submitting it to my targeted journal. But then I read it over again and decided, hey, I liked it just fine. (I often decide this about my articles, hence the scathingness of the reviewers' comments.) I really DID like it just fine. I couldn't imagine what I could add to make it longer, or better. So rather than sit on it for six more months, and THEN say, oh, heck, just submit it and see, I submitted it (online) to the journal in question. One down!

For the other one, the revise-and-resubmit, the reviewer mainly wanted me to "contextualize" the discussion much more. And, kind and wise as she is, she suggested a bunch of ways in which I could do this, and suggested the scholarly texts I could call on in doing so. Step one, then, was to get those books. I trotted off to the university library, hauled home half a dozen of the books, and ordered three more on inter-library loan. I trotted off to the public library for a few children's books the reviewer mentioned. And I ordered a couple more on one-click.

So THAT is done. Now I need to READ them, of course, but I might as well wait till I have them all lined up in a neat little row, right?

Today, I'm turning to fruit that's higher on the tree. I have brilliant editorial comments on a children's novel-in-process, the one I was working on last May in Cabo. I have to decide whether I should try revising the book or whether I should abandon it for a more promising project. I know when I reread it, I'll end up liking it and wanting to work on it again. So I need to reread it. Actually, that's pretty low-hanging fruit right there: just read the thing! But for some reason, this feels scarier. Still, I found the right place to do it: the Blue Door Cafe, which I discovered this past week, with its cozy couches and appealing menu of treats. So: "reread the novel" is the lowish-hanging fruit I'm going to harvest today.

Maybe all fruit can be made to seem low-hanging, if I just take things step by step. Anne Lamott says, "bird by bird." I'll say, "apple by apple."

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