Sunday, March 31, 2013

New Book About Boy Learners

    I highly recommend "Writing The Playbook," a new book by Kelley King. It's a wise, practical book, and very much in line with the thinking I lay out in my books Boy Writers and Guy-Write. Available from Corwin.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Falling Back in Love With An Unpublished Manuscript

         I have an idea for a book. Actually it’s more than an idea—one of my editors liked it well enough to give me a contract—but I haven’t written it yet. I put it away for a while. I often find it helpful to have this away-time from a manuscript. For one thing it gives me a necessary distance, so I can look at it with some objectivity. I had planned to get back to it in a month or so, but other projects intervened, then I partially tore my Achilles, and now a bunch of months have passed since I worked on it.
         Now I’m ready. I want to start revising it, but first I have to fall back in love with what drew me to the idea in the first place. At first, this can feel awkward as a dinner with an old flame. I realize that I hardly remember her, er, I mean it.  We need time to get reacquainted. In order to produce a good book I know I’ve got to rediscover the magic, the mystery, the allure that originally drew me to this idea.
         I’m sure other writers have various ways of rekindling the romance. For me, it starts with rereading. If it’s a novel, I need to get to know the characters again, their strengths, quirks, secrets and weaknesses. What they want, and what they fear. 
In this case I’ll be working on a poetic picture book. I reread slowly and I reread for pleasure. I want to remember the rhythms of the language. At this stage of the process I try to be generous with myself. No, the manuscript isn’t perfect (alas, it almost never is) but there are definitely a number of good things in it. Now is the time to savor the positives.
As I reread the manuscript I start to get excited. That’s a good sign! I reclaim my original purpose.. I can see what I was trying to do so many months ago. I start getting ideas for embracing my original vision but also for extending it. If I can do that I just might be to create a book that’s better, more fully realized, than what I wrote the first time around.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Guy-Write workshops in Hong Kong

On March 1 and 2 I did two "Guy-Write" workshops with boys (grades 3-5) at the Hong Kong International School. I was inspired by their passion, creativity, and originality. These boys really love to write! We spent two wonderful hours together. That was perhaps a hair too long (next time I might limit it to 90 minutes) but overall it was a rewarding experience for us all. I think I learned as much as they did.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sap Season!

Here in New Hampshire the maple sap is running.  Our local elementary school even has a "sugar shack" where kids can boil down the sap they gather from local trees. The best weather for syrup-ing has sub-freezing temperatures at night, but above freezing during the day. When those conditions exist, the sap will flow.
      I love to feel the change of the seasons, when the land slowly morphs from winter to mud season to spring. Buds appear. The ground is swollen with water from melting snow. Creeks are lively and full, making their own tinkling music. The maple sap is running, and I find that my creating juices have started flowing, too. It's a season that makes me want to write.