Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Happy Dance!

I did it! I really did it!
34 Picture Book ideas in 30 days!!

Some of them are more fleshed out than others, but I have 2 that are especially begging to be written NOW, NOW, NOW!!! I keep telling them to shush, I have a thesis to finish.

But there's good news. I finished that first FULL DRAFT of the thesis tonight too!!! Woo Hoo! Double happy dance.

Now, the real work begins with my thesis: revision, revision, revision.

What am I going to do with the picture book ideas?

1) I'm going to write those two that I can't get out of my head.
2) I'm going to sock the other 32 away and let them simmer. You see I plan to do the Picture Book Marathon in February 2011. I need to write 26 drafts during that month. So, my ideas are simmering now. My fingers should be flying in February.
3) I also have 5 more nonfiction picture book ideas that are going to require some research. These weren't even figured into my 34 fiction picture book ideas for this month. I am going to start researching these as well.

Many thanks to Tara Lazar for hosting and providing inspiration all month.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Packing an Emotional Punch

I have been reading like a writer lately. In my current W.I.P., I am nearing the end. I know something horrible is coming. I know what it is. I have been dreading writing it. It will be very emotional for me. I know I need to write this part of the book, yet it's difficult. 

One of the questions I've been thinking about is how much tragedy can a teen reader take? An agent wanted me to consider the fact that I have tragedy at the beginning and the end of my book. My first response is--tragedy happens in real life. I want to show a character who rises up from unspeakable tragedies. This agent wasn't telling me NOT to write this book, but merely wanted me to consider was I writing two stories or one? It was a valid point. 

Unfortunately, multiple tragedies can happen in real life to real teens. It's horrible, but it happens. I don't want to skirt around tragedy  or give my protagonist an unrealistic situation. 

Over the weekend, I read a YA novel with incredible emotional punch. In Gayle Forman's If I Stay, Mia's family is in a car accident. She is close to death. She has to decide if she should hang on and try to live or if she should slip quietly from this earth. I don't want to give away all of the reasons she gives to stay or to die. Those heart-wrenching reasons are the very fabric of this story. 

It made me think of why we read in the first place. We read because we want to feel something. We may want to laugh, cry, escape, or be touched. But in all cases, we want to be moved. 

Forman's novel is gut-wrenching and emotional. It will make you cry. But I didn't feel teased or as though she'd played with my emotions. Mia goes through a life or death decision. She lives through something I pray I never do. 

When I read this book like a writer, it gave me a better understanding of how deeply I can cut to an emotional core. I don't want to taunt my readers' emotions, but I want them to feel, even if it's a tragedy. But more than anything I want them to have hope. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Haiku in My Sleep

I have been participating in PiBoIdMo. I have been faithfully coming up with a picture book idea every day. I keep thinking I'll be warmed up and ready to go when the Picture Book Marathon starts in February.

The good news is that I have had lots of ideas flowing. The bad news is, I didn't sleep last night. You know, when those crazy words run through your head and you can't get them out? That's the kind of night I had.

Here's how it happened:

I was composing haiku last night. I'm teaching haiku to my fourth graders right now. At night, I've been writing haiku and brainstorming ideas for my own haiku book. I was so tired, but I composed a haiku about earthworms when I was half-asleep. I tapped out the syllables with my eyelids. It was great. I was too lazy to roll over and write it down in the dark.

So I memorized it.

But you know how that goes.... You sometimes forget when the morning rolls around. Then sometimes, when the morning does roll around, what you wrote doesn't seem very good anyway.

That darn haiku kept me up all night. I woke up four times reciting it to myself. The cool thing? I remembered it this morning. I wrote it down as soon as I woke up.

Even better news? It seemed just as magical this morning as it did last night when I wrote it when my syllabic eyelids wouldn't leave me alone.