Monday, January 18, 2021

"Nonfiction Writers Dig Deep" Launch Event Highlights!

I'm chuffed* to be one of the fifty nonfiction authors who contributed an essay to this remarkable collection, and 25 of us celebrated with a book launch party/panel hosted by The Writing Barn this past Saturday January 16, 2021. There were over 450 registrants, and the chat was flying by as each of us on the panel had the chance to answer one question each!

There was so much wisdom and inspiration shared by the authors brought together by Melissa Stewart (who conceptualized and edited the collection) and I thought sharing a few highlights would be fun:

Donna Janell Bowman with the metaphor of her picture book bios not being panorama shots, but done using a zoom lens.

Laura Purdie Salas sharing how she makes a list of 20 different approaches she could take with a new manuscript, to stretch herself and find the best one.

Paula Yoo on searching for great nuggets in the research that move the story forward and/or reveal the emotion of the main character.

Ray Anthony Shepard and Anita Silvey both speaking of how a single sentence to encapsulate the whole project is key.

Carole Boston Weatherford on how she creates works of art that are hybrids of poetry and other forms.

Laurie Wallmark saying we have to write about what we're interested in, that way kids will be interested, too.

Michelle Markel's advice on turning to books you wish you had written, "good writing is contagious and inspires you."

my turn! Thanks to Melissa Stewart for the photo (and the opportunity)!

And I shared, in answer to the question about gems of writing advice, a three-sided gem:

1) about being Gay, and how I didn't come out until my 20s, and so how everything I do is about being authentic and my mission is to empower young people be their authentic selves right now. Having a mission for everything I do creatively feels key.

2) How history, as it was taught to me, was presented as medicine. And how with my new nonfiction book coming out in April, NO WAY, THEY WERE GAY? Hidden Lives and Secret Loves, I wanted to make it more like chocolate. Empowering chocolate. Having a vision for the book feels key, as well.

3) And how, with juggling a full time job, a part time job, writing and promoting my books, my marriage, parenting, family, and everything else, I used to think I needed a giant block of 3 or 4 hours to get anything creative done. And then Linda Sue Park shared her 12 minute writing sprint strategy with me: You set the timer on your phone for just 12 minutes, and tell yourself that's all you need to focus for. If the timer goes off and you're in the flow, you can set it for another 12 minutes, and then another, etc... But if all you have time for is one 12 minute writing sprint, at least you've written for that day. The secret is doing this daily... I'm more productive now, and feel more like a writer now, because of this method, than ever before. It's completely changed my creative life.

My contribution seemed well-received, with folks both commenting in the event chat and online that it resonated for them and they were excited to try the 12 minute writing sprints themselves. And a number really liked the idea of history not as medicine, but as chocolate!

I'm very excited about being part of NONFICTION WRITERS DIG DEEP, published by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). And it's really cool that proceeds from sales of the book are being split between SCBWI, NCTE, and WE NEED DIVERSE BOOKS!

You can read more, and get a copy here (or wherever you buy books).

And the Writing Barn just posted the full video of the launch event here! (Available to watch through January 31, 2021.)

*A word I've learned since becoming a little bit obsessed with the Great British Baking Show. So much so that I asked my husband to make me scones for my birthday last week. They were scrummy.

1 comment:

laurasalas said...

I loved your medicine/chocolate metaphor, Lee, and your powerful thoughts about being authentic! I, too, scribbled some highlights and hope to share them this week :>)