Archive for the ‘WIFYR’ Tag
This afternoon I headed up to Sandy for my fourth consecutive summer as an attendee of the Writing and Illustrating for Young Reader’s Conference. It is an excellent conference, with so many interesting, inspiring, and engaging writers who share their knowledge and experience with ‘pre-published’ writers like myself. (‘Pre-published’ is a term I picked up this afternoon – as opposed to ‘unpublished’. Doesn’t it sound nicer?) However, in spite of all the writing love that goes around, a smallish-largish part of me was dreading attending the conference yet again as one of the ‘pre-published’. What is my problem that I am STILL working on my revisions? Why is it taking me so long?
Of course I know the answer to that. I have four kids, and when it comes down to it my time will always go to them first. At the beginning of this last school year, my youngest headed off to preschool two mornings a week. I was so excited to finally have some time alone to write. But I ended up volunteering at the elementary school both those mornings. When school ended, and my book was still unfinished, I wondered if I’d made a mistake. Maybe I should have kept those mornings to myself.
What saved me from the burden of regret was a packet of bright blue cards that my son, Hunter, brought home from his fourth grade class on the last day of school. Thank you notes from his classmates for all the time I put into teaching them creative writing this year.
Here are some of my favorites (with original writing and punctuation):
You are my Wrighting Hero! Thank you very much!
I get to be a hero! Writing to the rescue!
Your the best in the world. You helped us a lot with our story’s. Thank you so much.
I’m a huge fan of hyperbole when it applies to me.
You are so greate. I love riteing and this really helped me. Thank you!
I’m not sure if I should be concerned about the various spellings for the word ‘writing’, but I was thrilled to know that this little girl loves to write, and that my time spent with the class helped her with the process.
You have been great and I think you made my book turn out good!
I loved this note because the boy who wrote it really did an excellent job with revisions. I was really proud of the effort he put into his book, and was glad that he saw the difference it made.
You are very pretty and thank you for the advice.
Pure gratification. I’m pretty and smart? Yay!
Thank you for taking the time to teach us to write!
I appreciated that this boy acknowledged the time that went into working with the class. There were so many nights when I stayed up late reading their stories. But when I read this last note, it was clear to me that all the time I gave them was worth it.
Thank you for giving me great ideas for my story. I hope that you liked coming to our class to incourage us to become a life long writer.
These notes were just what I needed to soothe my frustration at not finishing my novel. They reassured me that my time away from my own writing was time well spent. Maybe I’ll carry them with me to the conference tomorrow, to remind me that it is okay to still be sitting among the ‘pre-published’.
Last week while attending the fabulous Salt Lake City-based conference, Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers, I had the opportunity to hear from many talented writers and children’s book people. In break-out sessions, keynote addresses, and workshops I learned how to improve my craft, stay motivated and hard-working, and follow the dos and don’ts of the publishing industry. And during a lecture by Jennifer Hunt, Editorial Director at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, I learned how to be visionary. Hunt encouraged conference participants to be purposeful in our writing. To know why we are writing and what we hope to achieve. She shared her own goals and vision with us — what she called her manifesto — and invited us to craft manifestos of our own. Last night I sat down with all of my notes from the conference, gathered together my thoughts and feelings about writing, and found a manifesto of my own. It helped me see beyond the manuscript I keep staring at on my computer screen, and to recognize that there is so much more to my writing than just finishing the latest draft.
I write in order to understand what I see and feel; to name it, describe it, and find where it connects to universal experience and truth. I write to create; to give myself that challenge of bringing to life something that is imagined, but real.
This week I’m attending the Salt Lake based conference, “Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers.” Each day of the conference provides opportunities to meet and learn from gifted and successful writers of books for teenagers and children. It can be inspiring and invigorating. It can also be somewhat devastating. Because these conferences always bring editors and agents, too. And as much as the conference organizers want to convince us to “not put only publication on your agenda,” and “learn from every lecture you attend,” why else would any of us be there if we weren’t hoping for a shot at a book deal? When I arrived to register this afternoon and looked at the room full of desperate hopefuls, it was hard not to feel overwhelmed and just a little pathetic. It is just one more example of how exposed you make yourself as a writer. I’ve been attending writing conferences like this for more than nine years now, and I truly appreciate learning from presenters and spending time with my writing friends, but I’ve also had to learn to steel myself against my own insecurities. Last summer while attending the same conference, I took the light-hearted approach and made up my own lyrics to the jazz standard, “I Could Write a Book.”
If they asked me, I could write a book.
Historical or fantasy, contemporary . . . take a look.
I could add a vampire, if that’s what it takes. Oh please, just give me my break.
So I’m sending you my query right away.
So that you can publish it today.
And if you’re still looking for the perfect hook, put my picture on the cover of the book.
All very tongue and cheek. But I ended up singing it at a plenary session for all the conference participants. And believe me, singing acapella into a microphone in a room full of hundreds of people was no big deal compared to sitting across from an editor and hearing what she had to say about my book.
I’ve heard several young adult writers talk about the fact that they have an inner age similar to the audience they are writing for. I never liked that idea. After all, who wants to be stuck in adolescence? Not me. I liked to think that I had surpassed the terrors of the junior high locker room, the politics of the cafeteria, the acne, the hormones, the turf wars. Finito. So why did I always find myself writing for and about teenagers? I wasn’t sure.