Every evening, before I go to bed, I make a little list of things to do the next day.  Here in Maine, where I am alone and using the solitary time to work, those things are almost entirely work-related. (Okay, occasionally a DUMP RUN notation)  Back home, in Cambridge, there will more often be notes like "Call Nancy about movie time" or "lunch with Susan" or "Dentist"

Today's list had only three things. One, I was to write an short article about Paul Harding, author of the book TINKERS, which recently won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. It's a gorgeous book (with a gorgeous jacket; see below) and a well-deserved award.  (And darn; I just inserted the book jacket, which is predominantly (and beautifully) WHITE---and of course it is hard for it to show up against this white background. I'm going to outline it in black—

  And maybe you can get a tiny hint of its stark beauty:

Tinkers copy

I wrote the brief piece and sent it off by email and drew a line through "Paul Harding article" on my little notepad.

Next on my list was "Plunka interview"

Dr. Gene Plunka is the name of the University of Memphis professor currently writing a book on Holocaust drama.  He had sent me questions about the dramatic (and one musical) productions of NUMBER THE STARS.

I answered him and drew a line through "Plunka interview"

There was no notation saying "update blog"---but here I am, doing just that. It's a method, actually, of procrastination. Important to sit at the desk, thinking, and typing, but sometimes I am not quite ready to turn my attention to actual fiction writing. And that is the third (and final) note to myself: "Chapter 5."

That's actually Chapter 5 of Part I.  There are also Parts II and III of this complex book, and each of those parts has several chapters already written. I don't recommend this hippety-hop method of writing...because obviously things will happen in Part I that will profoundly affect Parts II and II, so I will end up doing re-writing. But so be it.

I was about to turn to Chapter 5 as soon as I finish this. But then an email came in through my website from a woman who has sent me her entire book manuscript as well as illustrations done by a friend of hers. I'm going to answer her right away to try to steer her in the right direction but with tact. If I don't do it right now, it will sit there, and I will be aware of it, and it will start to loom in my consciousness and I will be weighed down with guilt.

I am doing it RIGHT NOW.  And then: Chapter 5.