Writing Process

Hipple Collection of Young Adult Literature

Posted by on Nov 21, 2017 in Book: Deadly Flowers, Book: Deadly Wish, Educators & Librarians, Writing Process | 0 comments

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A first draft pages from Deadly Wish. Am I the last writer alive to do first drafts longhand?

I was flattered and excited to be asked to donate signed copies and original manuscripts of Deadly Flowers and Deadly Wish to the Ted Hipple Collection of Young Adult Literature at the University of South Florida! My books will live on the shelves beside books by Judy Blume and S.E. Hinton, so you can see they’ll be in very good company.

I must confess I’m a little sad to give up the original first drafts, though. It’s funny–I save all my first drafts, although I don’t know why. I don’t look at them again. They just take up space. I don’t mind throwing away intermediate drafts, but those first, handwritten ones–they feel like part of me. I’m surprised by how much of a wrench it feels to send them away. Like sending a kid off to college, I imagine. You always hoped they’d get there, but they’re not all yours anymore. Time to see what they can offer the world!

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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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