Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Mo Willems entertained us with stories of how he came to write the Pigeon stories. And Arthur Levine spoke about the elements of great books. The local success stories were so inspiring. The common thread among all of them was to keep at it, not giving up. My favorite sessions were craft-oriented and I attended as many as I could.
Two outstanding sessions were both given by a first-time novelist: Cynthia Lord. Yes, the author of Rules, which won a Newbery Honor. Someone in the audience asked whether she knew all this stuff when she was writing her first book. Laughter arose. "No," she said. It's the writing and revising that taught her all these things. For me, the highlight of the conference was listening to her speak.
Publication, acknowledgment, awards all make you feel good, give validation. But it's the time in between, when you're working hard, honing your craft, that is most important. -Margaret Chodos Irvine.
Never forget the reason to keep writing. -Royce Buckingham
Know your audience. -Cynthia Lord
Cynthia is a former school teacher and does numerous school visits. If she's presenting anywhere near you, GO! She's a pro. And very nice, too. Here's what some of her young audience had to say about books they like: funny and adventurous, things at school, just about kids.
A book makes a promise. Fulfill it. -Cynthia Lord
Don't be afraid to be the evil author and explore the shadow side. -Cynthia Lord
Agents, editors are superfluous. Write a superlative book. -Mo Willems
Literature is there to reflect reality. -Chris Crutcher
When you have an idea, write it down. -Arthur Levine
Monday, April 28, 2008
The chickadee, the chipmunk, the finch, the squirrel, the woodpecker and Fiona (not pictured because I don't have a picture of her eating, though I do have pictures of her working, playing and visiting with writerly folk). These critters and many more were here for the food, but Fiona came down for the regional SCBWI conference. It was wonderful as usual, but more about that later.
Friday, April 25, 2008
My pet projects wait patiently and when I return, some of the pesky problems are already solved (thanks to the subconscious that never stops working) and the time away means I come back with a fresh perspective.
So, do you write-for-hire? And how do you feel about it?
This weekend is our local SCBWI conference. Time for shop-talk, visiting with writing friends, and soaking up all that inspiration and wisdom. I hope to see some of you there.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Friday, April 18, 2008
Monday, April 14, 2008
In the introduction, we learn a little bit about poems, their forms, and why Ms. Harley chose the forms she did. Each spread has a gem of a poem that tells of the Monarch's life along with beautiful pictures.
Consider these excerpts from three poems:
If we would let our toes seek what we eat,
what smorgasbord would greet our eager feet?
The perfect patternings unfold
in tapestries of crimson and gold.
Abstract art grown huge and bold!
These poems are so much fun to say out loud. The language is rich and playful. They make you want to write your own poems about the things you find beautiful in nature. I was inpired to write about the pinesiskins that flock in our backyard. I also picked up my children's colored pencils to draw. No matter that I ended up with a pinesiskin that looked more like a mouse.
Ms. Harley includes a section at the back, titled Small Matters, with more information for each of the spreads. This book has everything -- facts, poetry, even philosophy. I highly recommend it.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.
-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
These four lines speak to me not just for the writing life, but for life in general.
But let's discuss this in terms of writing: It's not enough to dream of books with our name on the spine. We must write, write, write. Then polish our work and send it out into the world, which may or may not accept it. Only the writing is in our control. So we work at it, and a few years later we see that we are better.
Waiting can be the hardest part but goodness gracious, when that acceptance arrives, it's sweet.