With a book about to come out, and another almost maybe possibly at last finished (knocks wooden desk), it’s a sweet time in writing land. When I’m in the thick of drafting and figuring out plot, it’s hard to raise my head and have coherent thoughts about the process. But I’m sitting back a little today. Looking around. Having a few thoughts, coherent or otherwise:
I recenlty read a review where the work was highly praised except for the fact that one of the main characters was too reflective and self-aware. The critic said this didn’t leave the reader enough to do. I am taking that to heart.
My husband, a teacher, recently went to an evening of plays written, directed and acted by students. In the program, one of the playwrites said how amazing it was to see her work interpreted by others. She was having, I think, her first experience of sending her words out into the world and seeing them come to belong to others. This echoed something I’d read by the brilliant madman Jack Gantos, who wrote about how, when readers tell him his words have delighted them, he thinks to himself, No, you have delighted yourself. A writer is the catalyst for making something deep within a reader show up.
I also read a blog post by a writer who, while sitting at signings, frequently finds herself stymied by the question, “Is this a book a twelve-year old boy would like?” As if there’s such a thing as a generic twelve year old boy, any more than there is a forty-five year old man. Her post, which you can read here, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marie-lu/writing-a-book-for-boys_b_2806387.html, made me laugh as well as shake my own head. I’ve had enough teachers tell me they’ve successfully read the MO WREN books aloud to know they’re not “girl books”, but who knows how many boys I’ve seen pick them up and set them back down because of the girls on the covers.
And that brings me around to one last thing, the delightful post Julie Danielson, who writes the blog “Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast” as well as reviews for Kirkus, did on PHOEBE AND DIGGER. It’s surprised me a bit how much attention reviewers have paid to the “bullying” aspect of the book–I didn’t even think of the mean girl as a bully, just as a fact of playground life–and how little they ‘ve paid to two of the things I love best about it: that Phoebe is a child of color and a girl whose alter-ego is a powerful machine. This post gets both those things. Here it is,http://www.kirkusreviews.com/features/phoebe-digger-trouble-making-duo/ and I have nothing more profound to say on that than Thank you.