Monday, October 31, 2011

Advice from award winning author Jennifer Holm, Turtle in Paradise:

1. Don't give up
2. Stop counting after the 16th draft
3. Hire a baby sitter--or in my case, housecleaners, a cook, etc.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Laurie Halse Anderson on Characters

Where do we find characters?
1. steal them-we’re surrounded by fabulous people-students-
2. disguise them if it’s unflattering,
3. uses self. Steal relentlessly from yourself.
4. Cast the book as if I’m writing a play
5. When we really write specific, we usually get something that people can understand
6. Finds for each of her main characters a photo that looks like them
7. Clip articles about cool characters and the things they do.
8. If we’re alert to story, we find them everywhere
9. wrote a YA novel based on a babysitter,
10. Create them from the whole cloth-answer questions about characters

A Lifetime to Create an Award Winning Book

Author Rukhsanakha Kahn gave a brief talk about her picture book, The Big Red Lollipop. She took a story from her childhood, thought about it for ten years, then wrote the story in 15 minutes.

She admonished her audience to glean stories from childhood. We know them so well. It makes me think of two conflicting cliches about writing: Write what you know and write what you don't know.

The first certainly makes sense.

As does the second-what we don't know but want to know about will be just as compelling as we are driven to research and create.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I Find I'm Happiest When I'm Writing

So why do I allow so many things to keep me from what I love?
Portions of this essay/talk by Steve Jobs can be found all over the internet. His stunning death in relation to this piece are strong food for thought.

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."
"When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: ‘If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right.' It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been ‘No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."
"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

And so, a reminder to re-prioritze my life and write more.

I teach Socratic Seminar-- an amazing combination of Language Arts and World History taught by Socratic methods. This is my third year, but in order to continue, I would have to get a history teaching endorsement in addition to my Secondary English teaching endorsement. I tried. I really tried to fake it: I signed up for a Roman History class which would have allowed me to continue pursuing the endorsement to continue on this path. I went for a month. I loved the learning but I loathed the requirements to continue. The first exam I would have had to spend hours memorizing minute details about the Roman Empire that I really couldn't have cared less.
Whenever I had questions, I would go to a dear teaching colleague who has a master's degree in Greek/Roman History. He is so passionate for his subject that it is inspiring. And an amazing support to Steve Job's call to do what you love. From Dustin's passionate love for all things Greek and Roman, I learned that I didn't have it and was being untrue to myself.
I can't imagine giving up this incredible teaching position but I've got to be true to who I am.
I dropped the class.
Doors close, windows open. I hope it's not a second story window from which I must leap.
But then, there are ropes.