Blog, Writing

SCBWI Conference: Love

The thing I love about writing conferences is they provide opportunity–opportunity to improve skills, to network, to meet new people, and to showcase your writing. We’re a group of like-minded individuals, at different points in this writing and publishing game, coming together to talk about the craft and the business.  It’s wonderful! I usually leave these conferences inspired, ready to re-immerse myself into my project at hand.

This has been true in all the writing conferences I’ve attended, but it’s felt even stronger this time at the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) Miami 2012 Conference. Perhaps it’s because I have specific projects in mind, projects to which I’m totally and completely devoted and about which I’m totally and completely obsessed. Or maybe it’s because, like a fellow conference-goer said, anyone who’s writing for kids has to have a more nurturing composition. Or maybe it was because of the fabulous and inspiring line up of authors, editors, and agents. But it was fabulous. The intensive for Leveled/Early Readers, led by Bonnie Bader and Natalie Lescroart, was informative and it cemented my resolution in finishing/polishing my leveled reader MS. I also got some ideas for new stories, so I’m eagerly sketching outlines and notes. To all those who think writing early/leveled readers (especially the first level) is easy: it’s not!

I also loved Jill Corcoran. I came to her blog this past summer thanks to Catherine Ipcizade (who, I might add, is fabulous. She’s the reason why I’m now in children’s writing!) during a children’s writing workshop I took through UCLA Extension Writers’ Program (which, I might add, was also fabulous. Another post for another time.) Anyway, back to Jill Corcoran–her workshop was great and it reiterated concepts I’ve heard before while giving me new “food for thought.” It actually helped to take a look at my current beginning (for my YA project) and realize, I’m not beginning in the right place! I wasn’t brave enough to read aloud today (or rather, by the time I worked up the courage, it was too late), but hearing her lecture and comments was enlightening.

We also got inspirational talks from authors, agents and editors, and I made some new contacts and met some charming new people.

I plan on going to as many of these conferences as I can–it was that good.

Blog, Ramblings

Incoherent Musings (or Not)

My mind has been a bit depleted of blog topics, what with the end of the summer term upon me (grades due in less than two days!), grading, and working on my own writing for my two classes. I feel a bit scatterbrained, sitting in front of my computer, urging myself to post something, anything, but all I do is stare straight ahead, mouth slightly ajar. I wonder if I can fall asleep in this upright position. I’m exhausted from today’s grading marathon, but I’m still here, urging myself to write. So these might be some incoherent musings.

I’m working on a picture book manuscript for one of my classes. I’m hoping to get good feedback on it and maybe prep it to send out. I love how writing works – much like memory actually, when one memory triggers another then another until there’s a web of memories knitting together your past. Writing works like that for me – I start writing something and then, the ideas start coming. One by one. I jot them down and then tackle them in whatever order is most pressing. It’s not terribly organized, and one of my tasks at hand is organizing myself to focus on ONE project and ONE project alone, from start to finish. Otherwise, I’ll be spinning in circles without ever reaching the end.

So, for the time being, apart from the materials for my classes, I will be focusing all my creative energy around this fiction project, possibly a novel. The characters in this project have hijacked my subconscious and I find myself needing to know exactly how everything plays out. I’ve come to realize this will be a YA novel, and I’m excited by that (and terrified!). The next two courses taken at UCLA’s Writers Extension program will be dedicated to getting my behind in the right gear for this project. Because, damnit, I will get this done. I’ve received some very positive feedback from people I trust who are in the business, so I’m jumping in. All else will have to wait (im)patiently, and I’ll have to resign myself to jotting ideas on margins of documents.

Healthwise- I took another jab at acupuncture and noticed a short burst of energy immediately following the treatment. I’m going to give it the 6 weeks I have per my insurance and see how it helps. The doctor also started me on some natural Chinese herbs to help balance me out. I still haven’t gone to the yoga, though I’m hoping to get myself there soon.

I think that’s as much energy as I have right now. Until later. Chao.

Blog, Travel, Writing

Another day in a beach town

The rain threatens late today. It starts as a low, long rumble as we take an afternoon stroll on the beach. Towards the north, where the land and sea blend together into a solitary line, the dark clouds form shadows of mountain peaks and I almost forget that we’re in Florida’s east coast; there are no mountains here. The rain never comes, though.

The afternoon stroll was a good ending to a good day. I could get used to days like these: taking morning strolls on the beach; building sand castles and watching small shells dig their way back into the sand, far away from us and the birds that feed on them; swimming in the pool, trying out water aerobics; napping after lunch to the sound of the waves coming and going; taking an afternoon drive or walk or just sitting in the balcony, writing. I could absolutely get used to this.

I’ve been productive today, with my writing classes. For my children’s writing workshop, I finished a superhero assignment that I thought would dismantle me. One of my first sketches included Super Mom, whose powers include seeing all (a la having eyes in the back of her head – yes, clichéd, I know) and who constantly battled her nemeses Grumpy Grandma and Know-it-All Friend. A bit lame, and more a platform for a disgruntled mom than a kid’s superhero. Though I might revisit these “characters” even if for a comedic post. What I finally submitted was much better than this. I hope.

In my personal essay workshop, we had a guest author pop in, and it was very interesting. Christine O’Hagan was kind and answered our questions candidly. I always find it helpful to listen to the advice and wisdom of authors who know the ropes, who’ve published in the field I’m interested or tackling. I particularly loved when she said (and I’m paraphrasing) memoirs need to be written with compassion and humor. Compassion and humor – so important. In the process of writing my memoir (and it’s still very much a work in (early) progress), I’ve come to understand that memoir writing is not a vendetta, it’s not the opportunity to get even with someone. Memoir writing is writing without judgement, to understand and make peace with a past and with people in that past. It’s a journey and an exploration about an event (or events) and person (or people) that were significant in life and that, by sharing this experience, others can understand shards of their own lives.

Now, I sit here in the balcony. My son is asleep (finally – no nap today), and my husband is next to me, on his iPad. We’re quiet, and the only sounds that come are from the waves, the breeze, and the keys on my laptop as I’m typing. It’s a beautiful rhythm. Our vacation ends in two days, and I don’t want it to. I want to stay here, in this beach town, indefinitely. I want to get used to this routine.