Closing the Loop

This morning on Twitter, I was tagged by author/illustrator Wendy Wahman, who posted two pieces I wrote in her workshop at the Whidbey MFA Writers Residency. These were off-the-cuff pieces that we wrote in 35 minutes, so they could be better, but it was fun.

I told Wendy to let me know when she posted the pieces because I wanted to share my thoughts about the exercise, too. The class was about Ekphrasis, which is writing inspired by another art form—a painting, a photograph, a sculpture, etc.

What made Wendy’s class unique is that she didn’t bring paintings by famous artists, photos of great works found in museums or even local landmark statues. She brought artwork from elementary school children. One of the pieces I wrote about was drawn by a third grader. I’m guessing her name is Kynnedy.  [*Waves* Hi, Kynnedy!] The other piece was by Mikhail Shorkun, School 9, Sumy, Ukraine.

How awesome is that? It is a perfect example of how writers, readers and artists need each other—how we inspire each other. I thought about being a kid in elementary school, and how cool it would be to meet an illustrator like Wendy Wahman. She comes into your class, does some fun exercises. You draw. You create. You share. Wendy is blown away by the talent of these and other third graders.

Then Wendy comes to the Whidbey MFA program. She shares with us artwork done by third graders. We, too, are blown away by their talent and their creativity. We’re inspired. We write. What do we write? Off the cuff we write little exercises and stories that won’t go anywhere besides the blogosphere, but that’s not all we will write.

The MFA students Wendy inspired are children’s and young adult authors. We write picture books and chapter books, middle grade and YA novels. For me, Wendy’s exercise closed the loop. Children inspire authors. Authors inspire children. We need them and they need us. We are all connected.

I very much appreciate Wendy and the children, who let us see and be inspired by their artwork. Keep creating. Keep inspiring. I will try to do the same.

Get inspired by the talented Wendy Wahman. Grab her book Don’t Lick the Dog or A Cat Like That today!


Where Have You Been?

Seriously, where have I been? I’ve been right here. Writing. School. A few tweets, but this website? [Hangs head in shame.]

I feel really bad. I didn’t mean to completely drop off the scene for months, but I have to tell you, it’s been worth it…. because I finished my next book. Yes! It is complete. I sent it out for editing, and just got the file back. I’ve lined an AMAZING cover designer, who is working on the cover right now.

My silence has been productive on the writing end, but not the marketing/media end. This, I now realize, will probably be a battle for me indefinitely. I’ll have to really work at finding a balance between the private writing life and the public author life. You wouldn’t think it would be that hard. I know so many authors who do it well. For me, it boils down to how my mind works. When I’m in writing mode, marketing is hard. When I’m in book release- promotion mode, I don’t write much. Somehow I have to figure out how to do both of these things at the same time.

Plus, I’ve missed out on talking about so many exciting things lately–fun books I’ve read and authors I’ve met and inspiration I got at my recent writers residency. Here is the great residency irony: usually I have excellent cell and Internet service, and I don’t have much to tweet and blog about. I get to residency, and there are all these things I want to tweet and blog about, but I don’t have cell service OR internet. So frustrating.

Now I’m home with cell service and Internet, so I’ll be doing some catch-up posts. First up dates all the way back to May, which is my birthday month. I claimed an office in May and bought my self this cute desk.

There it is. My official author workspace. I. LOVE. IT. Plenty of places to stash my oh-so-many pens and Post-its. I am sitting at this desk right now typing this post. Here is to a new semester, and a soon-to-be released novel! Cheers!