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.