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Sunday, April 26, 2009

What I Believe

Okay, so it's been three weeks since I've written anything here......it's just because I've been writing lots of other stuff...like the "book" kind of stuff.

I've also had my educator hat on quite a bit (as opposed to my writing crown......different headgear altogether!) and have thought a lot about what I know about kids and writing.

The first thing I know about kids is that I was one once, and I try hard to keep that special part of me alive, not just alive, but thriving. When I am happiest, I can feel that childlike joy. That is the part of childhood I most want to hold on to. The fun part.

Fun

That is the most important thing I know about kids. They like to have fun, and fun is good. Fun is healthy. I won’t say that fun is the most important thing in the world, but it is right up there with love, compassion, honesty and creativity. If you as a teacher can make writing fun, then you have already won half of the battle. Wait. I want to rephrase that. You don’t make writing fun, you allow writing to be fun. You allow the wonder that can exist in writing to come out more often. But I am getting ahead of myself. I am already jumping ahead to writing when I really wanted to talk about kids. But kids do that, too. When ideas grab them, they cannot push them by the wayside. They have to let them out.

Because imagination and creativity thrive in children, a kid’s mind is always active. Kids have to think and imagine exciting stuff. Let’s say you are sitting in a class, listening to a boring lecture. It is so dull that you cannot, no matter how hard you try, pay attention. You, as a grown-up person, are thinking things like: hmm, do I need to get dogfood on the way home? Did I pay the electric bill for this month already? What should make for dinner? A kid, on the other hand, sitting at the same lecture is thinking: I wonder what would happen if a giant foot crashed through the ceiling. Wouldn’t it be cool if I had a pet flying squirrel? And other far more imaginative things. Kids love to think fun thoughts.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I am an over-writer....sigh....

So, like any other writer, I once read Stephen King's book about writing called On Writing. Truly it is a great book. Even though I don't read King's fiction (because basically it scares me), I greatly enjoyed his insights into writing. I especially liked the part where he said that the only time he really considered not pursuing writing was when he was a teacher.....that the act of teaching sucks the same part of your soul that you need for writing. (too true sometimes.....)

But the part that really hit home with me last week was what he wrote about revision. (I don't remember it word for word, and I don't feel like finding the book and quoting right now.) But he said something about the importance of cutting stuff out.....like up to a quarter or a third of what you wrote. Gulp. That's a lot. I thought that was probably because he just wrote too much to begin with, over-describing stuff and all that. I figured that if I ever wrote a long piece (like a novel) I would probably have to add stuff during revision, because I'd probably have to explain stuff better upon rereading.

Turns out, I'm an over-writer. ..sigh. In certain situations, I tend to over-explain stuff. I ended up cutting out about 10,000 words from a work that I thought I'd probably have to pad. Go figure.

I think that was what struck me about Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book. It was remarkable to me not only because of the writing of the story....but because of what he chose not to say within the context of his novel.

Rereading with fresh eyes........never a bad thing.

hrh