Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


The Persistance of a Writer

The will of the way of writing is sitting down, being, writing against the hard waves,--learning, becoming better, teaching what you learn, learning better, writing story, being blessed, teaching what you learn, learning better . . .

The goal is the walk. I offer myself this lesson, well, again and again. Still the word and the story show up. I'm juggling life and the cost of houses and college educations. This puts a pressure that is not conducive to creativity. Instead, it says go, work, give--somewhere in that space I still write. I see the moon and I walk the lake with my dog and watch it turn silver, watch pelicans dip their beaks into that silver lake, sipping a silvery fish. It slows me down, my dog swims, I sit on the levee and feel grateful. It returns me to myself and I shed my skin.


Giving thanks

One of my goals the past years has been to give thanks for the many opportunities that come my way. On a school visit to Gilman, Wisconsin in 1997, I was presented a beautiful Gratitude Journal by Heather Palmer, the art teacher. Heather told me that the journal was one in which I should write down things I was grateful for. I started doing this and came to value the practice. It's helped me cope with the ups and downs of publishing and reminds me how fortunate I am to get to do what I love when so many people struggle with so little. On this Thanksgiving, I give thanks for all of you and send all best wishes for a wonderful holiday.

Flexible Goals!

Mock-cover for *new* book
The image above is a "pretend" cover I made a few years ago when working on a story I had actually begun in 2003 after going to the symphony to hear Bruckner, my composer husband's favorite composer. On the program for the evening was Stravinsky's "Petrushka" and in the program was a gorgeous photo of Stravinsky and the dancer, Nijinsky. Something struck me from that image and I was compelled to begin a story about what happened when Stravinsky met Nijinsky. I am telling you this story because after 8 years of working off and on the story, it has just been offered a contract with Harcourt Books- part of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt! With this wonderful news comes a complete re-ordering of goals- and thus the title of my post: Flexible Goals!
Igor Stravinsky and Vaslov Nijinsky in 1911
Because this picture-book-to-be culminates in the premier of the Rite of Spring in Paris on May 29th, 1913, we have imposed a very quick deadline for publication- wanting it to come out on time for the 100th anniversary- spring 2013! I had just begun the illustrations for another book, but with my editor's blessings, I have pushed that deadline off and now have a goal of finishing the sketches for WHEN STRAVINSKY MET NIJINSKY by January and the final art by April of 2012. I have found that when my goals touch upon my heart's desires, I can meet them. This story and its characters lives deep inside my heart and imagination. I know I can meet these goals!

I have another goal that seemed to come out of thin air, but it is also seated deep in my heart's desires- While lying on the couch with the flu at the beginning of November, I acted on an impulse to register with NaNoWriMo and begin writing a middle grade novel that had been bumping around in my head for over a year. Spurred on by NaNo's pep talks and support from writer friends, I have embarked on a journey of writing that I do not want to let go of. I love my characters, my setting, and the plot begins to simmer, though not thickening yet. November is nearly over, but I am setting what I hope is a workable goal of writing two pages a day, even through the above deadline!

Goals are often attached to commitments. Over the past five years I have committed myself to being the script writer for Circus Juventas and I have committed myself to visiting schools and libraries as an illustrator/author. The Wild West is the theme for this summer's Circus Show and the script is nearly done. Usually I would linger over the winter holidays, finalizing the script for the unveiling in the new year, but I have already spoken with the Artistic Director and set myself the goal of finishing by December 12th before the circus school's winter break. And almost with some kind of sixth sense, I have not scheduled myself with too many school visits this winter leaving open time for illustrating WSMN~ what a gift for the new year!


One Life, One Goal

Today is my 48th birthday, and so thinking about goals seems appropriate.

Ever since I was in grade school my primary dream/goal has been to be an author. Over the intervening years I have kept the faith and continued the quest -- through the rise (and eventual decline) of Minimalism, the supposed Death of the Novel, the resurgence of Children’s Literature (thanks, Harry Potter!), the dawn of the Information Age, and on into a new Millennium. Along the way -- while juggling jobs, relationships, and my own family -- I have managed to publish two stories, a haiku, a humorous essay, and, this past summer, a poem. So I guess I’m an author, of sorts, but I have yet to achieve my main goal: to write (and publish) a novel.

I have written upwards of 10 different novels in the course of the last 20 years, all of which reached various levels of “completeness” but none of which, so far, has developed into a finished manuscript. Currently I have drafts of two different novels I am working on, either of which might be “the one” that allows me to finally realize my dream. To be honest, some days I fear I will lose the will to keep plugging away, but then I come up with a new character or a scene, and I plunge back in again. I believe I will continue doing so until either I succeed or mortality catches up to me. Until then, I’ll stay hard at work. Wish me luck. It can only be a matter of time, right?

Besides, if I didn’t keep trying to write, what else would I do?