Ten writers for children. All with something to say.

1/21/10

A BOOK IS MADE BY A VILLAGE

It has been said that a writer is a hermit. I am, during my first drafts written by hand. But as soon as the story gets into the computer, I print it and read it to my writing group. I am one of those rare writers who takes rough drafts to her group. The early feedback helps me learn what I need to delete and add. During the meeting I am there thinking, "They don't get it," but a few days later, I begin to agree. Maybe what they were trying to say wasn't at the sentence mentioned but around it. I respect my writing group. I must. They are: Eric Kimmel, Susan Fletcher, Winnie Morris, Pamela Smith Hill, Dorothy Morrison, Susan Fletcher, Nancy Coffelt, and David Gifaldi. Without them I wouldn't be where I am today.

Then the manuscript goes to the editor. My editor uses the old ways: A ten page revision letter that I don't read for days. When I finally sit to revise, I begin with what I agree and small changes. After I walk around the block several times, I tackle the huge issues. My editor says that she likes me because I always agree with her. Not quite true. But she's a seasoned editor and I believe in her judgement. She wants the best book from me.

You know that we don't get to collaborate with the illustrator. But as famous as David Diaz is, I have found errors. He knows that I talk about them. So, here I go again. In César he illustrated the teacher as a man. It was a woman. After I told my editor, David took the same character and put a dress on it. (At the time teachers didn't wear pants) But David also enhanced that book. He added a chaperon to the scene in which César and Helen were going out. That's what an illustrator does, enhance your story. For illustrator to do that, he/she needs freedom, not an author saying that she/he didn't see it that way.

I am lucky enough to be able collaborate with Marshall Cavendish marketing people. They treat me like a queen, and as you can see here, I tell the world how fabulous they are.

A writer asked me to collaborate in a book she's writing. I have written stories for anthologies, but writing a story with a friend scares me. Her friendship is more valuable to me than writing a book together. I declined her offer. That doesn't mean that others cannot collaborate in a story. It has been successfully done.

Now to my good news:

I am a recipient of an Oregon Literary Arts fellowship. The money will allow me to travel to Europe to research Picasso.

Diego: Bigger Than Life is the recipient of a Pura Belpré Honor Award.

8 comments:

Stephanie said...

Carmen, you rock. That's all. :)

Nancy Coffelt said...

Stephanie beat me to telling you that you rock.

Curses!

So I'll have to fall back on "you're peachy-keen".

john said...

Carmen, you are blazing the trail for us all in 2010.
Way to go!

Edie said...

Carmen,
Congratulations on your wonderful accomplishments! And I know there's more to come...

Lauren said...

Carmen, you rock, you're peachy-keen, you are a trail blazer, and you have a very exciting year ahead! Bravo! I also appreciate the detailed description of how you accept criticism and suggestions from your writing group and editor. And the caution of writing with a friend-- I understand that.
Congratulations on all of the awards-- very deserving!

David LaRochelle said...

Add my congratulations to the list, Carmen!

And I, too, need time before I can see the validity of others' criticism and suggestion. My first response inside is often, "Oh, they are so wrong!" but after some passage of time (days, weeks, sometimes even months!) the wisdom of their advice finally penetrates.

Christy said...

Carmen,
I like how your honors bring you the means to move forward for more creative discoveries and projects. I can't wait to hear about your trip to Spain. Congratulations!

Mark said...

Carmen, your take on different aspects of collaboration is very interesting. Along with the others, I add my congratulations on your accomplishments and wish you all the best this year and beyond!