I'm finding that blogging takes place in an inverse proportion to how much other work I'm doing. I apologize for being out of the loop for an entire week. You may remember the "To Do List" I wrote about a few months ago. Well, that list is pretty long these days. Added to that list, as of today, is a deadline for a first manuscript, due by the end of July. This may be the fastest book I've ever written. (But I like a challenge!)
One of my excuses for the blogging slowdown?
Today, I visited the amazing UBC Research Farm to take part in a school tour learning about sustainable farming. I discovered a lot — including what kids find most interesting: worms in the compost, bees in the hives, and feeding the free range chickens. It was a sunny, beautiful day, and great to contemplate the balance of nature on the farm.
One of the blogs I regularly read and enjoy belongs to talented nonfiction author, Tanya Kyi. Her recent post on nonfiction says a lot of what I believe to be true about this genre. Read her post here.
As for me, my lastest book proposal was also accepted (just heard the excellent news today). The past few months of research and writing has clearly paid off. Now the hard part begins... writing a book that matches the glowing description of the proposal. :-)
A big thank you to Pam Hossack, the amazing librarian at Clinton Elementary School in Burnaby, for two lovely days at her school. Thank you also to the students and staff for making me feel so welcome!
It's been exciting to speak at so many Burnaby schools this spring, partly because I grew up in Burnaby, and learned how to read and write there. I'm able to talk to the students about which schools I attended as a girl, and how my family spent many happy hours checking out books from the Edmonds Public Library.
Author visits allow kids to see that becoming a writer of books is possible. It also gives us (authors) a chance to say that being an avid reader as a child often leads to a career in writing. The same is true for illustrators who often spent their childhoods sketching and drawing.
When I was a child, I really had no idea that *regular* folks could become authors or illustrators. I think it's wonderful that kids today have a chance to hear that they if they follow their hearts, work hard, and hone their skills, they too may be able to have their dream career.
It was great to catch up with other children's nonfiction writers at dinner on Friday and discuss the state of the nation, so to speak.
What did I learn?
- That nonfiction writers are very smart! Wow! What an amazingly literate and articulate group of people to sit around the table with.
- That the internet has dramatically changed the publishing market. What we write these days has to appeal to the trade market, and be clever or have a twist. The "straight-ahead" style isn't selling because everyone thinks (possibly mistakenly) that they can get all of their information simply by checking the internet.
- That the market is increasingly tough, but there will always be a need for books, especially well-written and well-researched ones.
- All of us are regularly asked, "When are you going to write fiction?" Ouch! We adore nonfiction; that's why we write it.
- We may be closer to journalists than to fiction writers.
- Many of us have degrees in subjects other than English. There were people with science degrees, history degrees, education degrees, business degrees and even a psychology degree (me!).
- Many of us came to writing as a second career.
- All of us have a sense of humour!
- We work very hard.
- We are dedicated to getting great information into the hands of kids.
Tonight marks the first time local nonfiction authors will get together for a dinner and a chat about the joys and challenges of writing nonfiction for kids. Surprisingly, there are at least 8 of us attending the event, and a few more who are unable to make it. Who knew there were so many talented local folks working on nonfiction for kids?
We are supposed to bring our best and worst stories of working in this genre. My best is probably feeling privileged to work in a field that allows me to learn new things every day, and share them with enthusiastic kids. My worst (hard to think of anything!) might be that the publishing market is really tough these days. Yet, that in itself provides an interesting challenge. Work harder, work smarter. That's my new mantra!