Dear Kidlit Writers,
We enjoyed two more hours of discussion and workshop time on November 11th. Andrew, Lorna, Gina, Nanci and I spent a little time checking in to see how we were all feeling after the Presidential Election last week. We agreed that no matter who you voted for, the election brought forth intense emotions, and reminded us to listen, be patient, and to be clear about what we value. Andrew has stepped away from social media in favor of attending to his writing, to clear the clutter and his calendar, to show up for his writing and make it “his beacon.” Great advice!
Andrew brought the first chapter of his alt-historical fiction novel (currently on submission with 18 publishers) and we discussed the importance of voice in any piece, but especially in the first chapter of a children’s or YA book. Nanci brought up some good “picky” tips re: active, specific verbs in place of “I realized, I feel, I see, I hear/d,” which tend to put distance between action and the reader. It was a good reminder that no matter how “finished” a piece may seem, there is always room to improve!
Every glimpse of Lorna’s novel has been a treat; each chapter reveals a bit more of her young characters and surprising magical elements woven into her protagonist’s adventures. In this chapter he meets his first witch, and we discussed hiding just enough information from the reader in order to compel them to keep reading.
Gina is feeling the highs and lows of the writing life lately- from excitement to despair. We’ve all been there! She brought a new picture book manuscript with lots of potential. We needed Sheryl’s input on the picture book submission process- maybe next time! This draft is highly metaphorical, so we discussed ideas for rewrites in which Gina can play with the story and narrative of a child feeling big emotions and dealing with “mood storms.”
Nanci is celebrating the arrival of Advanced Reader Copies of her new book Georgia Rules, but has wasted no time digging into her next manuscript. She brought four compelling pages that left us wanting more. Write like the wind, Nanci!
I’m feeling very compelled to finish a draft of my project as soon as possible, and appreciate having this group to write for. It’s really helping me sit down and work in the midst of work and family and all the rest.
We plan to meet again next month, December 9th, 6-8 p.m. in the Center for the Arts Conference Room. Join us!
Inspiration: “Every draft is perfect, because all a first draft has to do is exist.” Jane Smiley
Book recommendation: “Forest for the Trees” by Betsy Lerner (more theory than technique, a writing book in the same vein as Bird by Bird) Amazon link for convenience…order it from a local bookseller near you!
Website to check out: http://kidlit.tv
Gorgeous poem: and story behind the story: Kindness Over Fear by Naomi Shihab Nye on Brainpickings
Melissa & Nanci