Monday, November 4, 2013

Talking about the Writing Process with Peers

On October 28th I posted this on my facebook page

Why are peers so much more terrifying than anyone else? I've talked about my books to classes many times, talked at writers conferences, art fairs and libraries but tonight I'm going to talk to a book club of my friends and coworkers and I'm feeling so nervous I might as well be back in Jr. high facing the dreaded ninth grade speech and presentation. People were so intimidated by that someone called in a bomb threat. Of course that was back when bombs in school were pretty much guaranteed to be a false alarm.
and the next morning this was my report to the site where I chat with friends

Last night I was really shaking in my shoes, too nervous to eat, feeling like I had in 9th grade with a huge class project on erosion to present to the whole 9th grade.  I've talked up my books at lots of places, but this time 11 woman teachers had bought and read the Oregon trail one, and asked me to talk to their book club.  The whole peer thing was way harder than talking in a class of kids or among other writers.

They loved it, and had a lot of questions about the research and kept asking me to write a sequel when the girls had grown up a few more hers, and saying, it would make a great movie, you need to write a script.

So, relieved.

So I am going to share some of the things I showed them, that I also talked about with the classes I have visited as an author.  In fact a couple of them have now had me booked to come talk to their classes.
I always knew I wanted to be a writer, and when I go to give a talk about being an author, I share the first books I wrote, including one in pencil and crayon from when I was a ten year old. It is called "The Police Twins on Death Island" and includes lots of death and drama and is bound up with yellow yarn through the holes meant for the binder.
and I showed them the first, small font, cramped, and scribbled on manuscript that I printed out an read to some of my family after doing 50,000 words on it in my first NaNoWriMo,  (National Novel Writing Month) and putting it away until I was no longer sick of it, a year later, and then adding another 38,000 words
And then I explained that back in those olden days it cost me $109 to print out four copies of my finished manuscript an then began the expensive and lengthy and ultimately depressing process of mailing out copies to agents and editor who were already swamped with mountains of unasked for manuscripts.

but fortunately times change and it is easier now to attach a document in pdf form to email and get it where it is going cheaply and that same day.  Not any more likely to be a happy result, but quicker and cheaper.  Now that I am 50 and willing to take a chance as an Independent author, and now that it is easier and friendlier to be your own book publisher and marketer I have found that I delight in the experience.  I love designing a book and writing and editing it and sharing it with people around the world.
I love doodling and outlining and watching those simple beginnings grow into a finished book and then head out into the world.  I find it a lot like raising my children.  Once they leave my home, who they interact with and how they are received may reflect back on me at times, but much of it I will never know about, and the reactions that do find there way to me are surprising. The things I love may be overlooked while things I barely noticed are loved.  It is a discovery and an adventure every moment.

That is OK because the books I have loved and that have shaped me, were only faintly binding me to their authors but more about connecting me to the world as one filled with many people with different stories but all capable of being loved and hurt and worthy of compassion.
So now it is November, and another NaNoWriMo finds me digging into the history of two Volcanoes. The next Double Time book is growing this month, while the third Duffy Barkley takes a rest and waits for me to return with fresh eyes, and a rainbow book of colors is starting to take shape as my first picture book.
I am delighted that the students I met through a teacher in the bookclub are participating in a program called being a writer and are hoping I will guide them through the steps to publishing a class collection in the spring.  Life is filled with surprises and the next generation is discovering that as things change, there is still value in books

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