January 4, 2014

Day 2 Writing Routine: Children's Literature & the Natural Voice

I'm discovering it's easy enough to compose meaningful, engaging literature for a young audience. What's most difficult, however, is finding the natural voice. Children mature so quickly; it's almost a mystical undertaking, summoning a voice they'll connect to. Their regard is like a delicate cluster of butterflies in the palm of your hand, ready to flit away and scatter if a breeze sweeter than the story happens to drift by.

I find the natural voice is already there -- I am a mother, after all -- but it's as thin and fragile as a newly spun spider web. Tug too much this way or that, and the thread will snap. The natural voice suddenly becomes synthetic and alien, and away the butterflies go.

research: picture book manuscript formatting, Louisiana publishing houses
revise: The Proposal (FINAL)
  • Look at My Hat!, sight word children's book
  • Draft 1: bedtime children's book
  • Draft 1: regional children's book

Total time = 8+ hours

January 3, 2014

Day 1 Writing Routine: Magic

I had to pull up my old writing routines from four years ago in order to get a template for recordkeeping. I don’t know what I was thinking back then, but it was not uncommon for me to critique four or five peer works per night. I must have been out of my mind.

My perspective of approach to the writing routine has drastically changed since then as well. These days, there are no “all-nighters.” I can’t afford to push myself like I’m training for the Olympics. “Slow and steady wins the race.” But I’m not racing anyway, am I.

Like knitting a ten-foot scarf through nightly goals of only seven lines each – Why? Because seven lines were a guaranteed accomplishment. Dread-free.

Nothing I attempted today was a painful stretch to complete. Before I even began, I made peace with myself: I’d begin and attempt. If I found my heart wasn’t in the task, I gave myself permission to invest my effort elsewhere. What I discovered was, the “begin and attempt” were the hardest parts. With low expectations of what the “begin and attempt” might produce, I was comfortable and confident enough to just keep going. It really felt like magic.

critique: 1 peer work
read: various dog poems
  • Dog, Weldon Kees
I am no growling cicerone or Cerberus
But wreckage for the pound, snuffling in shame
All cold-nosed toward identity. –Rex? Ginger? No.
We find a dog, hungry and sad as a suitcase kicked open
And showing nothing.
  • The Dog Stoltz, August Kleinzahler
  • February, Margaret Atwood (cat poem)
  • 1 letter, 2 min.
  • 2 min. association
  • prompt: “On the other side of that door…”
write: first-draft poem, The Proposal (126 words)
revise: The Proposal (v. 1-3)
Total time = 6 hours