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Monday, August 3, 2009

YA Author Spotlight Saturday Presents... Susan Beth Pfeffer!!!

Do I have you confused yet? Well, for reasons you'll soon learn, I could not post Sue's guest blog on a Saturday, so she's taking my spot today, on a Monday.

We’ve had a lot of fun shining it on Linda Dawda, Brian S. Pratt and Sara Zarr and Jaime Adoff, and it continues shining today!

Today, our spotlight shines on Susan Beth Pfeffer! Take it away Sue!

When Carrie Hinkel-Gill was kind enough to ask me to guest blog here, she mentioned my doing it on a Saturday. I replied that I don't work on Saturdays, since it's my Sabbath, and we agreed that I could pay my visit on Monday instead.

I've been a writer my entire adult life, having written my first book that got published (Just Morgan) my last semester in college. Writing children's books has been my full time job for forty years and seventy-five books (number seventy-six, This World We Live In, the final book of a trilogy which includes Life As We Knew It and The Dead And The Gone, comes out on April 1, 2010). But I've only developed the "No Work On The Sabbath" rule within the past couple of years.

Weekends are a funny time for writers. If you have another job as well, weekends may be the only free time you have to get your writing done. But if, like me, your income derives from writing, then you can do it whenever you want, or whenever you have to.

I used to not work on weekends, my line of reasoning being that my friends- teachers, librarians, journalists, lawyers, whatevers- didn't work on weekends, and it was foolish of me to be working and unavailable at the exact time that they weren't working and were available. Not that they were necessarily all that available on weekends either, but at least they weren't going to their places of employment. And I would urge my friends who were writers not to work on weekends for that exact same reason.

But the older I got, the less I followed my own rules. I got into situations where I had very tight deadlines and it simply made more sense to work all weekend long. Or I'd get so involved with a book that I didn't want to stop, regardless of what day of the week it might be. Or, because I regard the true start of a week as Monday (just as I regard the true start of a year as September), I'd decide to work through the weekend so I'd be finished by Monday. Lots of different reasons.

Then I realized that during football season at least, I preferred working on Saturdays to Sundays. I love baseball, but I can work to baseball (and yes, when I was a kid, I did my homework with the TV set on). But pro football isn't a great background sport (neither is figure skating, which I adore, and which I never work to when it's on, and now that broadcasts so much of it online, you can pretty much forget about my working for major stretches of time fall through winter). So for three or four months, even though I might work on Saturdays, I didn't work on Sundays, which seemed a little weird even to me, given that my Sabbath runs from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.

But what finally got me to a no work Saturday policy was the internet. I began to blog, and along with my blog, I included an email link. People read blog entries and write email when the time is right for them. Their clocks are not necessarily my clock.

I love my blog. I love getting comments and I love getting emails. Forty years of what is essentially a solitary profession and it's immensely gratifying to know people are reading and enjoying what I write (it's less gratifying when they don't enjoy what I write and email me to let me know that, but that's a whole other subject). I answer all my comments and all my emails. I certainly have the time to do that, and it's a very pleasurable part of my job.

But somewhere inside me, I found I didn't want to be on call, so to speak, seven days a week. And that was when I realized the time had come for me to respect the Sabbath and not work in any way from sunset Friday through sunset Saturday.

I'm not always 100% successful. I try real hard not to do laundries then or run the dishwasher, but if I don't remember to get those jobs done by Friday afternoon, then a turn the other way load of laundry may well get done, sunset or no sunset. And since I've never bothered to tell the people who read my blog that I won't respond to their comments or emails on Saturdays, I sometimes feel a little guilty when there's a late Friday comment that goes unanswered until Sunday morning, I have learned not to blog on Friday afternoons, unless there's something so fabulously stupendous to report that I can't make myself wait until Sunday. Which, trust me, doesn't happen that often.

So now, in my own bizarre way, I am a Sabbath observer, and like many Americans, I'm a Sunday NFL observer. The books still get written, the emails answered, and maybe, just maybe, I'm a little fresher on Mondays!

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