Saturday, August 22, 2009

When meeting different people in LA, one of the common questions was, "Did you go to sCBWI new york? A lot of people answered yes and there was an instant, "What's the difference?"

*New York is cold in Jan. and everyone is dressed in winter black clothes
*NY is about the business. The editors tell you exactly what they are looking for, what's on their lists, how to query, etc...
*California is more about craft.
* And the biggest difference besides summer clothes and the carefreeness that comes with summer is also a California thing. Call it hippies, flower power, spiritual energy, new age..etc. The obvious difference between riding around in perfect weather in your convertible versus walking the cold inhospitable streets of NY. You just feeeel better in California. So the biggest difference in California was the theme...

WRite what's in your heart, and as famous Arthur Levine, a big gun at Scholastic,"Just write the story it needs to be."

I promise you will not hear that in New York.

So, just write the story that needs to be AND the underlying thread was that a story has a life and personality of its own. You just have to tune in with the vibes of the story. Lisa Yee, author of the Millicent Min stories said that she was working on a book that started with an 11 year old protagonist that evolved to 12 and eventually 17 because that is what age she was meant to be.

So meditate, light candles, put on ocean music, and let the energy flow.

**In Lisa Yee's book, there is a character named Dr. Kuglmeier. My real life true friend. And she really is a doctor only she now goes by her married name. Funny connection.


***I'm tired and I know I've written poorly. Forgive me.

Friday, August 14, 2009

I am flipping through notes trying to glean some valuable tidbits from the LA conference. There is nothing earth shattering or absolutely necessary here for you to become a great writer, but hopefully a few kernels of wisdom that will pop in the heat of your brain.

*Capture the experience-don't mimic

*teen outlook vs. adult outlook-there is a different way of reporting and hearing

*Look out for that word you overuse

*Ask, "Why is this a story I have to tell?"

*Be careful with physical descriptions: trust the reader to know "she is smiling."

*details are what make a story.

*Titles don't need to be concrete-they're getting more sophisticated. I saw a query where the author wrote, "my working title is..." I thought that perfect if you are unsure of your title.

*Ingrid Law suggested that writers shouldn't be too careful. What does that mean?

More tidbits next week.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Painting Over the Mistake

I read something today that made a lot of sense about writing or at least getting started on writing. Ann Lamott tells the story of being a young writer and talking to an old painter about how he came to be a painter. "He said that he never knew what the completed picture would look like, but he could usually see one quadrant. He's make a stab at capturing what he saw on the canvas of his mind, and when it turned out not to be even remotely what he imagined, he'd paint it over with white. And each time he figured out what the painting wasn't, he was one step closer to finding out what it was."

I'm standing on the precipice of my new novel that I'm excited and afraid of. I wrote a first beginning, which you've read and which I scratched, and it wasn't until I read the above that I realized: I'm in that beginning exploration of trying to answer, what will this novel be? And sometimes I have to paint a quadrant to find out what it isn't. I do this a lot and finally I see that it has purpose and is part of the evolution and creation of thoughts, story, and eventually a good book.

I am re-phrasing a line to fit my analogy:"You have to make mistakes to find out who or what your novel isn't; you take the action and the insight follows."

I've discovered that instead of knowing what the novel is, I will have to search for what it is supposed to be-through trial and error or painting over- and won't it be fun?