Thursday, September 13, 2012

As anyone can see who reads this blog, I hate writing about myself. I put it off as long as I can, and ignore the whisperings of my guilty conscience. I know I am not the only writer who struggles with publicizing her work--many writers are, by nature, introverts, and we would much rather bury ourselves in writing or writing-related projects, guarding our privacy. At the same time, I enjoy doing presentations and talking about my books, so there is a tension there.

Rereading my last blog post, about a student writing activity last school year that didn't go as well as I had hoped, reminded me that later that year, I had just the opposite experience. One day I was subbing and a girl asked me how to write a book. An idea popped into my head, and, seeing we had some extra time, I decided to use her question as a class activity.

I wrote a basic story idea on the board, then we played with it. The class helped me add detail after detail until we had the whole board covered with possibilities. Not only was it fun and instructive--at recess two teachers came in, saw it and asked me about it, so I explained what we had done. One asked if I could come to her class and do the same activity! So a few days later I popped into her room (which just happened to be my granddaughter's class) for an hour and we did the same thing. Then she used it as a class assignment after I left, to write the story we had outlined.

I found it amazing that the unplanned idea turned out so good that I know I will use it again and again, yet the one I had slaved over did not turn out as well as I had envisioned. This often happens in writing. Books, or characters in books, sometimes take on a life of their own, beyond what you had originally planned.

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