Summer is just about officially over. Looking back on the writerly things I did, there are a few that top my list. I was thrilled to be a speaker at the SCBWI conference in Maryland along with David, John, Lauren, Betsy, and Edie. Definitely a highlight of the summer.
At the conference, my editor Liz handed me her revision notes for my novel The Raft. I'm happy to report after all my hard ( okay, perhaps a tad obsessive) work the past month, it went to copy edits on Friday. Whew.
The most inspiring thing I did this summer involved my work as the Harney County Writer in Residence. Since my stint started in January, I've been in schools all over the county. In early August, I did workshops at the Eastern Oregon Academy, a court-ordered facility for boys ages 12-16 who have found themselves in trouble for one thing or another. The boys are there for a year. I wasn't sure what to expect, or if they would even want to do any writing.
I was blown away. They had all read The Compound and had so many questions for me. They were so receptive and engaged, and all are amazing souls with heartbreaking stories. One boy brought his piece up for me to read and I wept, I couldn't help it. Those boys may feel like no one listens to them, but through their words on paper, they have discovered their voice. Many were already poets and writers long before I showed up, and the work they shared with me was so powerful.
The week I spent with them was my favorite of the entire Writer in Residence program and I was sorry to have to say goodbye. To me, they were so inspiring and they made me want to go home and be a better writer. They made me realize that, despite wanting to please my agent and my editor and the reviewers, I need to be writing for my readers. That sounds dumb, I know, I mean, who else would I be writing for? But honestly, in the world of YA, there are so many adults you have to make happy that you forget your actual intended audience. I won't be doing that anymore.