Writing Process

Twelve Truths I Learned From Life and Writing by Anne Lamott

Posted by on Jun 13, 2017 in Inspiration, Writing Process | 0 comments

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes. Including you.”

“Every writer you know writes really terrible first drafts, but they keep their butt in the chair.”

“Go outside. Look up. Secret of life.”

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A Glimpse Inside a Writer’s Closet

Posted by on Jan 27, 2017 in Writing Process | 0 comments

IMG_8591If you peeked into my closet today, you’d see:

  • a stuffed cobra that can be posed with its head and neck pulled into striking position
  • a facsimile of a gravestone from 1893
  • a pirate hat
  • and of course unruly piles of books.

All of these are legitimate work-related objects. #writingisweird

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Mean Girls and Elementary School

Posted by on Jan 11, 2017 in Book: Deadly Flowers, Book: Deadly Wish, Childhood, Writing Process | 0 comments

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So it happened a while back. Probably it happens to most kids eventually. My daughter was friends with a Mean Girl. You know, there were the promises of friendship and the gifts and the insults and the “I won’t play with you if you don’t do what I say.”

I told my brother and he yawned and said, “You can’t choose your kid’s friends.”

I told my writers’ group and we spent a good twenty minutes reviewing who said what to whom and hashing out the power dynamics. I mean, it’s material, people.

I promise, I don’t try to fight my daughter’s social battles for her, despite heavy temptation. And who knows, maybe this other kid’s mother also thought her daughter was friends with a Mean Girl. Probably they will both go to college despite all of this and grow up to live productive lives.

But I wonder–is it even harder for those of us who create children’s literature to keep that bit of distance that lets our kids become themselves? I swear, I had to bite my tongue when my girl came home from school so I didn’t ask breathlessly, “What did she do TODAY?” Oh, the bitter politics of the playground, the crushing anxiety about whether a friend of today is a friend for tomorrow, the dance of who sits next to whom. It’s not just my memories–it’s my work life. I take a pen in my hand and relive it over and over again.

(In my latest book, however, I made my main character a ninja who can solve social issues among her peer group by kicking people in the head. So there.)

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What I Can Do

Posted by on Nov 16, 2016 in Children's Literature, Race, Writing Process | 0 comments

Around the Neighborhood

I love the art for this book–it’s warm and clever and bright and joyful and energetic. But oh, I do wish that the mom and baby were not both pink.

I don’t usually do politics on this blog (I’ve got Facebook for that!) but, like a lot of us, I’m dismayed, to put it mildly, by the election and the rhetoric swirling around us. And I’m thinking about what I can do. This is not all I have planned, but for the record:

  • I’m not going to write a book with only white characters ever again. I’m sorry for the times that I have. I’m sorry for the times that I thought I’d write a more inclusive, more representative, more accurate book “later,” after I got this or that particular idea finished. It’s later. I’m on it.
  • I’m going to ask my illustrators not to paint/draw/pixelate only white characters. There is a touchy etiquette dance between authors of picture books and their illustrators, and we word people have to be careful not to tell the picture people how to do their work. I’ve erred on the side of being too polite here. I’m not going to do that anymore.
  • There will be gay characters in my books. There will be gay parents who are trying to do right by their kids. There will be gay boys kissing their sweet boyfriends, lesbian girls kissing their adorable girlfriends.
  • There will be immigrant characters in my books who are trying hard to adapt to a new place and a new language and to the loss of a homeland and who are not taking anything away from anybody else just by existing.
  •  I will try my hardest to make every book that I write an exercise in empathy, in getting into another person’s mind and heart. Because I’m pretty darn sure that’s the only thing that’s going to save us.
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