Saturday, March 04, 2006

I've just been to a book launch for a picture book - "Doodledum Dancing" by Meredith Costain, illustrated by Pamela Allen. If you are familiar with pbs in this part of the world, you'd know Pamela Allen's work. I still have my copy of "Who Sank the Boat?". But the best thing about this book is Meredith's poems. Long live poems for kids!!! It's aimed at littlies, from say 2 to 4, and is a real read-aloud, have-lots-of-fun book. Of course, my favourite poem is the pirate one.
My writing this week continues on the small theme - 250 word articles and stories. For some reason, I am continuing to also write new picture books, and completely rewrote an old one. It must be because I am teaching picture book writing again this year and reading all those pbs is inspiring me. Read small, think small, write small.
The rewrite was interesting. I had been thinking about this particular story, along the lines of "Darn thing, how come I've rewritten it a zillion times and it still isn't right?" Then one night I got a new line for it - not at the beginning but about a third of the way through - and kept writing, and came up with a whole new concept for the story. And I stopped myself from going back and referring to the previous draft because I didn't want to fall back into the old version.
Of course then I had to turn around and rewrite the first third. I haven't dared look at it since. Haven't even typed it up from my fevered scrawl. But I keep thinking about it, tucking it away in my brain for another simmer. Soon ... soon I will type it up. I even have a brand new title, which is great because the old title was too similar to two other pbs out there.
One of my students asked this week, "What do you mean when you say a story 'isn't right'? How do you know?" That's hard to answer, and maybe comes from experience - reading, writing and critiquing. You just know. It's close, but it doesn't create fireworks when you read it. And a pb has to create some kind of fireworks for everyone who reads it - child, parent and, of course, publisher/editor.
In the meantime, I continue to diagram scenes from the historical novel and ask those crucial character and plot arc questions. My writing group is using a new workshop method (new for them, created by my fabulous writer friend, Tracey, for teaching in her class). It uses de Bono's 6 hats, and has been a great shot-in-the-arm for our workshopping. I have now given them some pages of the novel to pull apart. It should be fun. Excruciating fun.

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