Friday, August 28, 2009

During my morning walk this morning, I saw two young boys on their way to school. Both had backpacks and were walking briskly and talking and laughing at the same time. Suddenly one of them, the one with the skateboard in his hand, took off, rolling down the sidewalk on his skateboard, hollering in delight, his hair blowing in the wind. He waved to his friend as he continued down the sidewalk, free as the wind, letting go and absolutely enjoying it. That brought to mind something I heard at the SCBWI-LA conference three weeks ago.

Let go of the outcome,” is what famous author Karen Cushman (1996 Newbery medal winner, The Midwife’s Apprentice) said. “Cherish the process. First show up. Showing up means turning on your computer and typing up page one. Write. Keep showing up. Writers write. That’s what we do. Submit to agents, editors, contests. Give power to yourself.”

She told us to “pay attention.” By this she meant looking around, paying attention to sights, smells, experiences and reactions, and also being curious about other people’s books, attending conferences, joining writer’s groups.

Connect with emotions,” she said. “Communicate this to your readers. Know your characters well. It is on this emotional level that we connect to our readers. Cherish the process rather than the product.” Then she told us, “Let go of the outcome. We cannot make an editor take our book. Publication is just one of the reasons we write. We write books that bring hope and wisdom and comfort. Follow your dreams. Trust yourself. What matters is you and your words. Empower your thoughts. Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right words in the right order, you can nudge the world.”

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