Thursday, June 30, 2016

Writer's Quotes - Jane Yolen

A guest post: Jane Yolen

This month's thought on writing: 
Poetry especially is not a One/Done writing activity. I constantly revisit and revise my poems. I read each line aloud to test its rhythm. I roll it around my tongue to find the sweet spot in each line. I tighten and cut to make the poem more compressed. I search out the sense and sensibility of the whole.
Sometimes I read a new poem to my critique group--an ongoing (40 years) group of seven professional and very well regarded children's bookwriters. Each day I see something good and something that needs work in a particular poem. Each word in a poem is sacred. So it better be the right one. Maybe I make a single word change, or add a new line, or an entire verse. Sometimes I take them out. 
The great French poet and philosopher Paul Valery said that a poem is never finished but abandoned. He didn't mean abandoned as in throwing the poem away. He meant there comes a moment when the poet abandons the poem to the universe, having given that particular poem his/her best shot at perfection. (And note the last part of that word. Uni-VERSE.) 
Time to write a new one. 
How many times do I revisit a poem? As many times as it needs. I often revise a poem 20-30 times before abandonment.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Writer's Quotes

Although this quote was given to us by a writer at the VCFA Alumni mini-residency, she thought that it actually was something her athletic coach wrote on the board before every game.
Any who - it applies to all of us:

Commitment --

The will of the mind to finish what the heart has started 
long after the mood in which the promise was made has faded.

Which is probably why we continue writing and writing even when we are sick and tired of writing until we finally finish the manuscript.

Return to Wonderland

Last week I took the full day flight back to Vermont.  Yes, it takes that long to fly from California to New Hampshire and then rent a car to get me to Montpelier, Vermont.
To attend the Alumni Mini-Residency.

Yes, I finally graduated, got my MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults to add to my Masters in Library Science last summer at Vermont College of Fine Arts, which meant I was now an Alumni and could finally attend the mini-residency.  Why do I keep saying 'finally?"  Because It took me many years what with attending only the summer sessions.

On the other hand - it enabled me to spread out the cost of the grad school, so that I was not overwhelmed with $40,000 in debt when I graduated.  In fact, I had no debt at all because of a good savings plan prior to attending the college. (which is a good thing since I am now retired from my day job.)

Now that I've attended one of them, I know what to expect if and when I go to another.

Note to self - remember that someone who submitted the manuscript they read at the evening Reading session to the agents at the pitch session got an offer of representation.  (I used different pieces of writing and got good feedback, but no offer.)

Note to others - if you were one of the people complaining that all we learned during our four semesters at VCFA was how to write better, but nothing about the business of writing, this is where the focus is definitely on the business of writing.

It was great seeing so many other alumni.  The Weather was wonderful - perfect warm weather with soft breezes. The lectures were informative. And I love, love, love the drive through the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont.