tree by the planetarium

Greenwich Park looked magic this morning, with fiery-bright leaves and a weird pink light that made you think aliens were going to land any minute. Here’s the tree next to the one I drew last week, a marvelous row leading up to the shell-pocked statue of General Wolfe, ‘Victor of Quebec’.

Have you been following Philip Reeve‘s landscape drawing series? It’s fun to think we’re doing it at the same time, even if he is based way out on Dartmoor. (Anyone else out there making tree drawings?) He just blogged about a class who made the most splendid construction, a model of London from his Mortal Engines books. In Philip’s world, a multi-tiered London roams around on caterpillar tracks, chasing and eating up smaller cities, it’s very impressive.

Edit: Oh wow, word just in that it’s public: Morris the Mankiest Monster made the long list for the Kate Greenaway Medal! It’s a very long list (see here), with some STIFF competition, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed until the short list is announced in January. (Photos from this year’s ceremony.)

Edit 2: Even better! Some lovely friends nominated for the Carnegie Medal, including Candy Gourlay for Tall Story and Philip Reeve for No Such Thing As Dragons! And Tabitha Suzuma from SCBWI, Geraldine McCaughrean, David Almond, Ian Beck… so many fab people on the list. Hurrah!

I got a nice e-mail from a guy named Paul Atherton, who brought his son, Charles, along to my Monster event last week at Foyles bookshop on Charing Cross Road. He made a video which includes a little snippet of me about half-way through (a very quiet snippet, as I had lost my voice). Lucky Charles, that really was a most excellent half-term break! His trip includes a visit to the Roahl Dahl Museum in Great Missenden. (I’ve sat in that same chair!)

YouTube video link

Don’t forget, Comica Comiket happens this Sunday! Come buy fab indie comics and meet the creators at the Royal National Hotel in Bloomsbury. I won’t be there for the whole day, but I’m going to try to pop in near the end, and afterward for drinks at The Lamb. Details here.

Back to sketching: I missed the trees, it felt good to get back. I’ve been getting a bit stressed out lately with the huge stack of things I’m supposed to have done and haven’t. Last night at dinner, Stuart asked me what we were going to do for Christmas cards this year (we’ve prided ourselves on always sending out our own design). But it was just one more thing for the list, and all of a sudden I got hot and sweaty, my heart started hammering, and I realised I was about to have a panic attack. Then I felt VERY silly, that I was having a panic attack about Christmas cards, of all things. Durr.

We had dinner a few nights ago with a visiting friend who used to work for a relief charity where, if something went wrong, her people could die. That really puts things into perspective. So I stopped having the panic attack, and immediately my parents rang. I didn’t say anything to them about it, but my dad, out of nowhere, said he was worried about me and advised me to go get my blood pressure checked, since high blood pressure runs in his family. I did get it checked recently (and it’s fine) but it did make me think that I need to slow down. It’s not the events or travel that kill me – those are the fun bits! – but it’s the preparation work (e-mailing, making Powerpoints, etc) and the invoicing and reimbursal forms (most of which I haven’t done yet), not to mention dual-nationality tax forms – that really get me. I’ve tried to get help, but I haven’t even had time to organise things enough so that my 3-hours-a-week assistant knows what she can do. The publicists do most of the work for the big festivals (Cheltenham, Bath, Edinburgh, etc) so I mostly just have to show up, but for the smaller ones, there are always a zillion loose ends to tie.

Which means we probably won’t do Christmas cards this year, or maybe Stuart will send a few cards (made by someone else) to his friends. Newsletters are a big thing with Americans, but I figure if someone really, really wants to know what I get up to, they could find my blog in two seconds on Google. I hate it that the things I seem to be cutting out lately are the nice things for other people. It all feels terribly self-centred and I want to get through this events season – hep! hep! – and make some changes to that.

Apologies (to you? to me?), this is probably way too personal for the internet. But I’m guessing a few of you out there might identify with feeling a bit overwhelmed this autumn. Here’s raising a mug of tea… to us!

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