If I start thinking about how many eyes (read: opinions) are needed to bring a book to a child, I can get overwhelmed to the point of resorting to cleaning the refrigerator.
But, it is important to step back and remember to write for (NO! Not Santa!) this little girl. Me. The little girl who wanted to tell Santa about my Christmas list and who wanted to please my parents (who wanted me to be a "big girl" and sit on Santa's lap for a cute picture), but I was scared of him and he smelled bad. So while it looks like a Hallmark moment, in my memory, it is full of layers. If I focus on writing for this little layered girl, I stop thinking about infographics and gatekeepers and suddenly, writing a story for that girl feels like what I really want to do. Does this ring true for you?
When I accepted the invitation to speak at the 2015 Michigan Reading Association Summer Literature Conference on Mackinac Island, July 8th/9th seemed so far away. But now, here we are on the almost-eve of the conference and I'm really excited. Aside from the obvious way the Island captivates (no cars allowed!), it will be a treat to be surrounded by lit lovers at every turn. I'm looking forward to sharing my talk, The Intersection of Fiction and Nonfiction, with teachers and librarians and the mind-expanding discussions that always follow. Safe travels to all who are headed to the place where time forgot but fudge survived.
Let me know if I'll see you there!
This represents my feelings about speaking and signing books at the Michigan Reading Association conference this weekend! My presentations are:
Literacy at the Intersection of Fiction and Nonfiction and Humor in the Classroom: Bring On the Funny.
Please say hello if you are there!
It's not about time management, it's about energy management."
Having just returned from five days away from my busy life at home to attend the extremely busy SCBWI International Conference in NY, I am a bit wacked to spend time posting on my blog this morning. But on my flight last night, I read the brilliant quote above and decided I would heretoforward adopt it as my mantra. I thought you might like it, too.
Kat says managing our energy means doing more of the activities that fill up our tanks and less of those that deplete it. For me, that means:
Try this re-framing and let me know how it works for you. But only if that fills your tank...
Do you ever have that feeling that something amazing is about to happen? I do. In fact, I've been carrying around that feeling for seven days now. Every hour or so, the skin on the back of my neck tingles and I can feel how I'll feel the moment the amazing thing is revealed. Weird, eh?
This has happened before and I wish I could correlate it with an actual amazing thing, but alas, that isn't the case. Most of my amazing things seem to happen out of the blue. Boom! I open my email and there is the offer for the contract three months after the possibility was dangled. Boom! There is the "yes" on a research grant although I'd had no confirmation that the application was received. Boom! There is the invitiation to speak at a great conference I'd never set my sights on.
But during this current round of feeling like something amazing is about to happen, my view has changed. I've realized that events about me are happening without my present knowledge and this could be the cause of the feeling. Really weird, eh?
Maybe a teacher is using A Warm Winter Tail in his classroom and the children enjoy it. Or a conference planner is searching for nonfiction writers and my name pops up (thank you, the wonder of google). Or maybe an editor opened an email with my manuscript that she didn't know she needed until that moment. Of course, my view is only positive. Because, why not?
This is happening to you, too. Events are being played out about you without your present knowledge. (Only positive events, though.) Because despite living in a transparent world, we don't know everything about everything that happens -- yet. But, the magic is that we are all connected somehow. After five decades on this wonderful planet, I'm pretty sure about this. And that connection causes ripples like wind across a snowcovered field and it also causes tingles on my neck.
Amazing, isn't it?
Remember that PiBoIdMo adventure I posted about recently? I love it because it gives me permission to throw ideas out there without mental-censoring. And the posts Tara Lazar has lined up by creative people are always inspiring. Today's post, however, did more than inspire. It shifted my thinking on a point that has stuck in my throat since I started writing picture books:
"You must leave room for the illustrator" <finger wagging>
In picture book writing speak, this means that we don't need to AND SHOULD NOT write in details (such as "the cinnamon-haired girl with the polka dot dress") that can be illustrated. The marriage of art and words are what make a picture book effective. I understand this cerebrally, but have secretly rebeled because who knows my story better than I? Despite my appreciation -- okay, slathering jealousy -- of artists, I've always felt the story started with me and my direction is the right direction so maybe I can and should sneak in few sign posts along the way.
But the amazing artist, Floyd Cooper wrote today about his Muse and how he lost and found it again. He said he is most inspired by, "a text that sings, that embraces my imagination and injects it with energy." That makes sense to me, but when he said,
"Good story inspires great art."
I finally Got It. It isn't about leaving room for the illustrator. It's about writing story good enough to inspire great art. My throat (and intention) is now clear and I'm looking forward to seeing how this impacts my writing. How about you?
Once again, I'm excited to participate in Tara Lazar's Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) extravaganza that kicks off November 1st. She's pulled together an amazing cast of inspiring people in the world of children's books and I can't wait to start my next 30 days with their insights. Plus, during PiBoIdMo I give myself permission to collect at least 30 off-the-wall-and-who-cares-if-they'll-sell ideas. It's all about the "ideas" -- not the execution -- and that is just plain fun. So thanks, Tara, for pulling this together.
BTW, watch for a Mentorship interview with Tara coming soon!
Don't miss this 90 minute live webinar with noted author, former teacher, and school visit expert, Suzanne Morgan Williams. Fees are: $25 for current SCBWI members, $30 for not-yet-members, and free to Michigan P.A.L. members. It will be great for illustrators, pre-published, and seasoned presenters.
The best school visits are age appropriate, energetic, engaging, and add value to the curriculum. How do you design amazing presentations? Gain confidence in your performance, teaching, and negotiations? How do you get schools (or more schools) to hire you? Handouts, exercises, and the online presentation will help you plan programs based on your strengths, your books, and students’ needs.
Suzanne Morgan Williams will share her best tips for connecting with schools and negotiating fair deals. If you’re serious about giving presentations that leave schools buzzing, tune in. The webinar will end with an optional online question and answer time. Homework and supplemental information will be forwarded to registered participants prior to the live event. Your link to the webinar will be active for three months after the event. Click below to register! Seats are limited and filling quickly...
Carrie Pearson is a children's book author, writer-cheerleader, and mentorship matchmaker.