Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Knot Mine?

Writing and parenting.
It's like sticking a monster knot under a 
magnifying glass.

I see the glowy summer threads: road trip, 

happy cousins,

ice cream shop,

book binges, 

lightning storm pajama party.

Those snaggled inky threads are my
writing huddles,
snatches of corner-swept minutes,
scratches of manuscripts
sent and re-sent.
The loopy jumble is the rest:
Dust. Dirt. Chaos.
Wadded-up socks.
"Don't spit on your sister."
Fingerprinty windows.
"Don't chew your shoes."

I have no idea how to bring my crazy,
wordy, artsy, noisy,
kid-rich world into balance,
how to un-tug this muddle of snarled thread.

And then... I look at it without the magnifying glass
and it almost makes sense...
like a tapestry I've been studying on the wrong side,
or paint daubs too, too close.

Sometimes our knots are holding things together.
Sometimes the knots are the balance.

This life,
this funny, dirty,
lovely shambles is mine.
Every minute of it.

Whether published or not,
or a bit tattered on the edges.

So here's my advice, writer mamas and papas.
Put the magnifying glass down.

Don't worry about the peanut butter smudges or the dog hair
or the piles of paper.
Write on.
Enjoy the burnt toast and the sacred dirt.
Write on, busy bees.
Write on.
This is the good life.

Our summer road trip books:

Ramona the Brave - Beverly Cleary
Ellen Tebbits - Beverly Cleary
Toot and Puddle - Holly Hobbie
Journeycake Ho! - Ruth Sawyer, illustrated by Robert McCloskey
Fast Food - Saxton Freymann, Joost Elffers
The Magic Half -Annie Barrows, illustrated by
The Diamond of Drury Lane - Julia Golding
Mercy Watson to the Rescue - Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen

Check out some rich words on summer writing and parenting over at Words A Day blog.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

You and Your Words: Making Friends With Onions

Writing is easy.
              - the Pray twins, age 5
Sure it's easy....
In fact, I'm pretty certain there are like seven people in all of history who have turned out flawless novels in a week.
Plus there's the stream-of-consciousness Beatniks.
And Beethoven and the composer guys.  
So, there you have it -
The most effective approach to writing:

        Go be some crazy genius person. 

Brilliant people aside, there are the rest of us.
The writers who love words, but can't find the easy button.
"Aren't you finished writing that novel yet, Mommy?"
             - the Pray twins, age 6
Ahem. Nope. Not finished yet.
In fact, I'm at another fog bank in my revision, 
so I thought I'd hop over here and share a few highlights
from my session with the Teen Writers' Group.

How to Make Friends With Words and Onions

 It helps if you...

1. Like words.

2. Read. A lot. 

3. Write. A lot. Every day is really good. 

4. Make some wordy friends.

Critique groups are great. Teen Writer groups are fantastic.
So are friends who will read your work and give you honest, helpful feedback. 

5. Get used to peeling onions.

The thing is, non-Beatnik writers have discovered something clever.

Writing is really about rewriting:
peeling layers of story down to its essence.

Both onions and revising make you cry a little bit.
Onions for obvious reasons.
somebody didn't like my story! Boohoo. 
this is taking way too long! Boohoo.
my inner critic is throwing onions at me! Boohoo!
Hang on... this isn't an apple?

Disclaimer: I didn't say writers should EAT the onions.
That would kind of mess up the "Making Wordy Friends" part.

 6. Use your lifelines.

Here's a list of links for my teen writer friends:

Teen Ink
Writing Resources for Teens
Opportunities for teen writers
Young Writers' Critique Boards
Spilling Ink
Meg Cabot - on Writing
Mem Fox - on Writing
Cassandra Clare's Tips for Teen Writers
Sid Fleischman's Writing Tips
Avi's Six Secrets to Good Writing
Holly Black - Writing Help
Laini Taylor's Blog

So, there you go. 
You're golden.
Oh, you clever, clever teen writers!
You've got a lifetime of great words ahead of you.
I look forward to reading your books someday.

Onions and other Soup Vegetables in Literature:

Holes - Louis Sachar
Spuds - Karen Hesse, Wendy Watson
The Turnip - Pierr Morgan
Stone Soup - Marcia Brown
LMNOPeas - Keith Baker
Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato - Tomie de Paola


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...