Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lois Lowry-The Origins of Her Ideas and Other Notes

I took great notes on Ms. Lowry's talk and will try to piece them together here. Foremost, it was an honor to hear her speak and hear her creation process of nine of her thirty-something books.
LL feels the root of her writing came from having given words to her sorrow and strong emotions.

She often wrote couplets that were the start of her books:

Things that happened
way back - when then told and shaped and told again

Anyone who is a writer can often look back on their childhood and see the path they were always on to become a writer. Often, I look back with shame at the lies I used to tell. And maybe I shouldn't hoo hoo the seriousness of untruths, but I'm going to start taking a more gentle perspective of the stories I told as a kid and the satisfaction it used to bring me. LL had the same problem:

Here are a few of her great book lines:
The sweet sadness in her voice had affected him in an odd way. The sound of that little tremble as she spoke entered his skin and burrowed into his brain and made him into someone he’d never been: a liar.

James Priestly had an overwhelming urge to use deoderant the first time in his life.

Anastasia Krumpnik-one of her books
How did she think up Anastasia?
LL's father was pres. Nixon’s dentist. She had a bizarre fascination with pres.’s daughters. Amy Carter was the inspiration for Anastasia. A couple lines from Anastasia:
She had hair the color of hubbard squash,
She was listening instead to the words that were appearing in her own head, floating there and arranging themselves into groups into lines into poems…

Number the Stars
The idea and base of the story came from a conversation with her friend Annelise Platt who grew up in Denmark. They took a vacation together and realized that they both had lost an older sister. LL learned that AP sister had died because of living in Nazi occupied Denmark. In 1943 King Christian X was allowed to take his horse and ride among the people.-LL modeled the character Peter after one of the resistance fighters the Nazis executed in Copenhagen.

Some of her book ideas have come from asking the questions
What if? What if? Always there are so many answers.

The Giver came from an experience with her father. He was older and living in assisted care. She flew into see father every 6 weeks-showed him photo albums. The photos would bring back memories for her father. “There you are with your sister. Helen. What ever happened to her?" Her father asked. He had forgotten and it was if it had just happened and so he expressed his grief. She turned the page. Another photo and when showed him another picture of the girls, again he asked what happened to her? He experienced the grief all over again.
What if, she thought, if we could give people a shot where they didn’t remember the sadness?

Another couplet:
Moment caught by lens and light-not to solve but ponder--write

Ms. Lowry inherited photos from aunt with no names or info. The photo of a farm boy that haunted her became the reason for another book. The Silent boy. An autistic boy. “He was thin, I saw now, and tall for his age, and I thought, still growing fast, for his overalls were riding up his ankles and he would soon need longer. He was wearing a cap…

A haunting phrase and little more--imagination, take wing—and soar.

Her mother became a vehicle for A Time for Courage.


LL's mother was in a home during a lapse of alzheimers. She would laugh and laugh and cry and talk about a baby her friend was expecting and the baby died. She would talk to the friend named Dorothy. LL asked her mom when she was completely lucid: "Were you actually with Dorothy?" Her mother responded, "In the dream world it doesn’t matter. LL creates a time—the beginning of the book; Gossamer. “They collected pieces of the past, of long ago and of yesterday…

Saturday, January 29, 2011

More Adventure

While on our way to Boston, our luggage was on its way to San Francisco. Too bad we don’t accumulate sky miles for how far our luggage travels.
We fly into LaGuardia and our luggage is still coming in from Atlanta. Expected to arrive one hour after us. PJ and I hop in a cab with hopes that I will make it in time for the first intensive. Tony waits for the overdue luggage.
Having worn the same clothes over a 24 hour period, four hours of sleep, I walk into the intensives with minutes to spare.

The irony in all of this is that, while driving to the airport PJ commented, “Isn’t life good.” Instant agreement from all parties. Over the next 24 hours, we had to remind ourselves that life really is good. It is often in the inconveniences and even tragedies that we see how good life can be.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

When You're Willing to Fly All Night I am sitting in the airport. JFK was closed and our flight was canceled. We, along with hundreds of other people scrambled for another flight. The most immediate, first option was to fly late tonight and arrive tomorrow at 1:00. Not an option. Second option: fly to LA at 8 tonight, then to Atlanta, then to NY, arriving at 10:00 in the morning. I might arrive for the first intensive, might not. Then of course, there was the option to just bag it and go home. But I love to write and contemplating failure and dismissing months of planning, writing, re-writing, There had to be another way. And there was. Five p.m flight to Boston. Arrive past midnight, cheap airport hotel, early 6:00 a.m shuttle to New York and worst case, (which is an under-calculation) arrive at the Hyatt just in time for intensives.
The adventure begins!

I love writing.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


How important is creativity? It is a beginning. A starting place of success. And nothing inspires me more than this short video of Jay Walker's Library of Imagination.