I’m sitting here, in the exit row of an American Airlines jet, on my way to South Carolina, for school visits. Great time to blog! For me writing a blog has always been like keeping a personal journal. I start it, keep it up for a couple of weeks, but then life becomes too busy, and I slack off. Too many deadlines, too many personal obligations. I often wonder how people have time to blog on a daily basis. (I often wonder how people have time to golf, or to watch prime-time TV every day.) I often find myself envious of “free time,” which I don’t seem to have much of. Of course I have no one to blame but myself for that! I’m the one who takes on so many projects, and responsibilities, my days are so full. I suppose I just don’t like having an idle mind, or idle hands. A desire to constantly be up to something is both a blessing and a curse. In this blog — which I’m going to TRY to be very consistent with — I’m going to be talking about lots of things. My writing, my thoughts on various subjects, random observations, and personal stuff as well. Hopefully you’ll get some insight into the life of a writer, or at least this writer.
So what’s new? I just recently a contract with Penguin for two books. The second one is untitled. I have no idea what it’s going to be about. The first is another ANTSY book. Antsy will be going on a cruise. It will be called ANTSY FLOATS. That’s all I know about it. Well, I do also know that there will probably be a character named Tilde. Tilde, for those of you who don’t know, is a phonetic symbol, Like the “schwa” and the “umlaut” both of which were featured in the first two Antsy books. Following in that dubious tradition, I’m having a character named Tilde in the third, and will be putting a Tilde over the “N” in either Neal, or Shusterman (It’s the squiggly line that you see in Spanish). Beyond that, I have no clue what the story will be about. Of course I do have some ideas. I’ve been on a lot of cruises — as writing retreats, and for vacation — and I can include a lot of things that have happened on those cruises. Still, I don’t have the over-arcing theme yet. The more I ponder the concept, though, the more it will start to take shape. I’m thinking I might want to deal with illegal immigration. I might want Antsy to face the concept of true poverty — because when you travel to many third-world nations, you see a kind of abject poverty that we, in the United States are mostly shielded from. We know it exists, but it’s easy for us not to look at it, because it’s not “in our faces.” As with all my books, it’s this kind of noodling of an idea that gets it to take shape. No doubt as I spend more time thinking about it, I’ll come up with other things that Antsy will have to come to terms with. Maybe his own home is in foreclosure, but seeing true poverty helps put things into perspective. Maybe he’ll learn to appreciate simple pleasures more. So many things to think about! I love the idea that a story begins as a blank canvas, and you can paint anything you want!