Monthly Archives: May 2008

Green Parenting

Last week in my moms’ group we discussed green parenting, which motivated me to get rid of my Avent bottles and buy glass and BPA-free ones. Really I already own some Born Free bottles, but need to buy more and a bunch of other crap to go with them. Although an article about green parenting says a London study revealed that the environmental impact of cloth vs disposable diapers is the same (because of the water required to wash cloth diapers—especially right now during a drought), most of the moms in group agree that cloth is still better. Martin and I bought medium-sized cloth diapers, but Shea still doesn’t fit into them (ie poop running down legs). This discussion got me started on a renewed green kick, starting with reading the latest issue of Mother Jones (all about the energy crisis), making a list of things to do/buy/change, and volunteering to host a Green Cleaning Party in July, during which we will make our own green cleaning products while sipping Windex martinis (blue curacao, triple sec and vodka).

I promised myself I’d get to bed early tonight because I’ve been so tired lately, but more (specific) green details are to come …

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Update, Part I

As usual, I am way behind on transferring photos from my camera, so no pictures today. Last Friday I skipped swim class and took Shea to Little Farm at Tilden Park instead. He was so tired he fell asleep on the way there and slept during the first 20 minutes that I walked around the farm. Finally, I was standing near the goat pen, where two goats were sticking their heads through the fence looking for food, (You can feed the animals celery and lettuce, but I didn’t know that, so I showed up empty-handed.) and the goats’ heads were so close to the stroller that I woke Shea up to see them. He was pretty surprised to open his eyes to find two goats staring at him. And then one jumped the fence! He crashed into the stroller, but I managed to keep it from tipping over, and then wandered down the path through the farm until a woman caught him and moved him to another pen. Shea didn’t cry, but I was pretty freaked out, and kept my distance from the cows and pig. Shea loved looking at all the animals (and listening to my imitations: “Regarde le cochon! Qu’est-ce qu’il dit le cochon? Snort. Snort. Snort.”). On our way out a man was nailing boards to the goat pen to make it taller, so we plan go back soon. Meanwhile, our incident prompted a friend to send me this very funny video:

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Maid a milkin’

This is how I feel most days:

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Check out my new hat:

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Just chillin’

When it’s 102 in Berkeley, I don’t sweat it. I just chill out with my homeboy Elvis on the couch at moms’ group.

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Is bigger better when it comes to advances?

I’m fascinated by the Salon.com article that suggests that getting a big advance for your first book deal could ruin your career as a writer. If you’re a writer, you probably know someone, or have heard of someone, who got a huge advance, didn’t make the advance and then was blackballed by the publishing industry. And yet, I’ve never met a writer who turned down a big advance for fear that he/she may not make the advance. Befuddled by this incongruence, I asked some writer colleagues (all of whom have been published and have received advances of various sizes) what they thought, and here are their (anonymous) responses.

1. I asked my agent about the rumor that if you don’t make back your advance, you’ll never sell another book–and he said it isn’t true. If you don’t make back your advance, you just might not get such a big one the next time around. My agent never publicizes his authors’ advances, ’cause he figures it’s private information.

2. Can I have this problem please?

3. Nell Freudenberger took a 100,000 offer over a 500,000 offer because she wanted to work with a specific editor. The news of her turning down the larger offer was good PR for her, made her seem humble and probably made people resent her less. But really so much of this is luck that the best thing to do is ignore this crap and write your ass off.

Look at Andrew Sean Greer – headed for mid-list hell, but wrote a breakout book on his third try and now he’s the subject of a second full length feature by John Updike in the NYer.

So, get lots of money if you can and never blame a large advance for your failings.
How dull! That writer deserves whatever hell she’s stuck in.

4. fyi, a coupla things I think this article misses in its anger at the publishing industry:

– library budgets.
right up until about 1990, if any publisher came out with a first novel that got even one decent review from PW or Kirkus or Library Journal, they would sell a minimum of 3,000 copies through Baker & Taylor to libraries. For second novels, 4,000. In the early days of Consortium, we counted on this revenue stream as a minimum, and it covered a lot. For big houses, the numbers were even larger. In some cases, these books wouldnt sell at all in stores, but stores would take 5 copies and put them out. Returns might be high, but for a moment the books shipped number would get up there, look decent, around 10K or 15K. Throughout the late 80s and then early 90s, libraries couldn’t afford this any more, partly because there began to be so many books published, they couldn’t afford all of them.

– the oversupply of writers
there are a ton more books published, more writing programs, etc. We have changed the industry by multiplying. One of the reasons publishers can now walk away from an author after his first few books didn’t sell, in favor of someone new, is that there are so many new writers to choose from. In the old days, don’t believe that houses “stood by their authors” proudly. They hung on to their authors because at least they could write decently – and most of the slush pile writers weren’t tolerable. Today, the slush pile at any house or agency is full of really accomplished writing (as well as crap).
everything else is yeah, well, entirely accurate in its portrayal of our life. But to your question – would she have done better if her first book’s advance was a lot lower? I don’t see how. She still managed to publish four books. Many authors never get to do a second.

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Happy Fifth-Month Birthday!

Shea turned five months today, and with Mother’s Day this past weekend, I took some time to reflect on all that’s changed during these past five months. Four and a half months ago, I wasn’t writing, wasn’t exercising, wasn’t reading much either. Day was night and night was day and I was spending as much time watching movies while breastfeeding at 3 a.m. as I was at 3 p.m. Martin was home from work cooking all my meals, and I could hardly WALK. Ugh. Shea screamed every time we changed his diaper, and often didn’t calm down until we swaddled him and turned on the hair dryer, than stuck him in the swing until he fell asleep. I spent many nights sleeping on the couch holding him or sleeping next to him while he slept ALL NIGHT in the swing. We dreamt of the day he would smile, laugh and sleep through the night. Now Shea smiles all the time, laughs occasionally (I went shoe shopping today and the saleswoman entertained him by making funny noises while I tested out the shoes and I could hear Shea laughing from across the room) and sleeps through the night most nights if you’re willing to settle for the textbook definition of five hours at a stretch. His new thing is rolling over from his back to his stomach. He’s so thrilled with himself that he can do that, that we often find him sleeping on his stomach in the morning, or on his back after having rolled back and forth several times (I spy on him with the video baby monitor). He LOVES getting his diaper changed now. He lies there and fiddles with the blinds and – oh, this is his other new thing – sucks on his toes. He is obsessed with his feet right now and can’t lie on his back without grabbing onto his feet and sticking one of them in his mouth. It makes changing his diaper a whole lot easier!

How my life has changed. In the past four and a half months it’s gotten much more back to normal. I write, I read, I leave the house and I sneeze without peeing my pants. How it’s changed in the past six months: I can fit into my old clothes. How it’s changed in the past year: I don’t go to movies, I don’t climb; when I buy clothes, they’re a 6 (mos), not an 8. I can’t run the smallest errand without taking a diaper bag, a car seat (avec bébé), several toys, a stroller and a Bjorn. But first I have to restock the diaper bag (diapers, wipes, at least one change of clothes, cloth diaper, receiving blanket, warm hat, sun hat, baby sunscreen …), search the house for the right toys (the bunny rattle, the Winkel, some links), make sure Shea is fed and changed (if he’s tired he can sleep in the car). So getting out of the house to run to Monterey Market to buy strawberries can be a two-hour ordeal. Sometimes I walk because it’s faster than packing the car, and Shea loves going for walks. And that’s why I have plantar fasciitis, which means it hurts now every time I walk. Which is why I was at the shoe store today buying new shoes. And orthodics. And Dixie cups to make ice cups and ice my feet.

So besides the fact that it hurts when I walk, that I never see movies or go to rock concerts anymore, that no matter how hungry I am, I have to feed the beast FIRST, that it’s been months since I’ve slept more than five consecutive hours, nothing much has changed.

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