Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers was amazing this year. I was privileged to work with Carol Lynch Williams and 14 other talented writers during the five day morning workshop. In the afternoons, I attended several wonderful break-out sessions and listened to an inspired keynote address by Trent Reedy. He urged us to write our story. "You don't know who will read your book. You can't know whose life it will save. It will save someone's."
I will write more about it in subsequent posts.
Here's a quick story:
Carol motioned to me. "I need to talk to you."
It made me feel the same sensation as when Don Seegmiller said, "I need to talk to you." My first thought being, What did I do wrong? We walked outside after class and she asked me about my manuscript. I told her why it wasn't finished yet. My plans for completing it in August after the kids go back to their dad. She stopped me just outside the main building and said:
"I'm going to be mean to you now. Ready?"
"This manuscript should have been done a long time ago. This book should have been in the pipeline for publication two years ago and you should have finished your second book already. You need to finish it. You will get up early before your kids get up and you will write 1,000 words a day until it's done. You will finish it this summer. I know it's hard. I know it's hard to write. I know it's hard to work on, but you will work on it every day. What are you going to say when someone (editor/agent) asks to see it? What are you going to say to them?"
"What should I say to them, Carol? Tell me what to say."
"You will say, 'It's almost finished,' and you will work every day on it until it is finished."
"Okay, Carol. I will do that."
Then she hugged me. That's not mean. That's someone I admire greatly (writer of 28 published books) saying to me, "I believe in you so much that I am telling you this book you're working on WILL be published. It's a given. All you have to do is finish it."
SO TODAY I WROTE 1,000 WORDS. And it was easy. It was so easy. Here's why. I turned off my internal editor. I promised Carol I would write without my backspace or my delete. I promised I would write an ugly, dirty, stinky draft that's not polished at all. And I started writing that way today and it was AMAZING.
I will post updates here on my progress and make sure to let you know when I write. Which will be every day. Because Carol said so, and I do what my mentors -- like Carol and Will Terry -- tell me.