Saturday, March 31, 2012

This Makes Me Happy

I used to dance. I loved to dance.
But there was graduate school
and the birth of a child
and grading
and writing novels
and grading
and staying in when my favorite man in the world is in town
and grading
and ingrown toenails
and so forth.
So I stopped dancing.
This video that I stumbled across today,
therefore, makes me happy.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Brainstorming with an 8-year-old

 A few hours ago, I clicked on a link on Neil Gaiman's tweet. It took me here. It's Neil reading a little piece called "The Sweeper of Dreams," something he wrote to inspire people to take part in the Mini Opera competition, which pairs a librettist with a composer, and later, both of those with a film maker. All these people in the competition, it is assumed, are amateurs, looking for some avenue to express their creative passion.

I thought, Cool.

Then I took my 8-year-old son out the park to ride his bike, and for me to brainstorm my work in progress, which happens to be tied to an opera.

On the way home, I mentioned to my son Julien that one of the judges for this contest was Terry Gilliam, of Monty Python's Flying Circus.  (Gilliam is one of Julien's favorites, and yes, I know that this show is completely inappropriate for an 8-year-old. Blame his French father, who insists that it provides a cultural education and that boobies are just silly.) Julien's eye grew wide at the mention of Gilliam, and he asked if anyone--even 1-year-olds?--could try to write the opera. I said yes. So we rode home and this was the brainstorming session that ensued.

("The Sweeper of Dreams," by the way, is about this guy who sweeps away your dreams as you wake so that you aren't haunted by those dreams in the waking hours. Somehow, the opera story should relate to something about Gaiman's story.

We're munching on mandarin oranges and V8 fruit juice.)

I kept trying to torque his brainstorming around to the plot, but as you can tell, maybe the magic of brainstorming is not to be so logical all the time. As I listened to it, I realized I should have just let loose rather than have a strangle-hold on the plot.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

We're all stars

When you feel small or alone, watch this:

Astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Can I just say?

I actually have two things to post to the blogosphere, but this one deserves it's own little box.

Confession time.
And this one might just make me a pariah in the Young Adult writers' community.
I'm scared.

But I was inspired by brilliant blogger (who resembles a Californian goddess), Jessica Love, whose writing is always honest (and frequently funny).

So here goes, world:

I don't get "squee."
I don't really like "squee."
Worse: I swallow a little gag now at "squee."

For those of you not in the know, I have leaped into the arms of a loving and intelligent community called Children's Book Writers, with a healthy population of Young Adults novelists. I have set aside the literary novel for adults genre and embraced the YA genre that swallowed me whole when I was an awkward, haunted teenager. I follow too many YA blogs and websites every week, and every week I am amazed at the industry, the talent, and the authors who advocate for young people.

And I'm assaulted by "squee" everywhere I go these days.
Yes, I get that "squee" is a word that expresses happiness.
That SQUEE expresses excitement and joy.
And that SQUEEEEEE!!!!!! is exhilarating and orgasmic (but still maintains an ironic innocence).
The exclamation point, by the way, seems a bit redundant, no?

It was cute at first. Really. The first time.

But after reading it over and over and over, it's lost its squee-ness.
It sounds more like a dog-toy that's been chewed to hell.
It sounds, dare I say it, juvenile.

(Apologies to the YA world for using juvenile as a negative word. But is anyone getting me??)

I tried it, too. I squee-ed right here on this blog. Somewhere.
I was feeling the pre-pubescent joy of...something.  Can't remember. But yes, I "squee"-ed.
But I shall squee no more.

I will not judge people who have written "Squee!" in the past, present, or future. Squee away, till your heart's content. I'm sorry if I offended you, squee-bers. But I'm just sayin' it might be time to find a new interjection.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Festival that Matters

Tonight I'm paying homage to a little festival with a big heart. Highland Park High School in Dallas, Texas, has hosted a literary festival for 16 years, featuring incredible keynote writers (Naomi Shihab Nye, George Plimpton, Michael Chabon, Billy Collins, Tobias Wolff, I could go on and on).

I've had the honor of being asked to present a fiction workshop for the last five years. (I also have served as a judge in the literary writing contest.) Melora is a jewel of a human, and she organizes dozens of parent volunteers, who each work hard to make the festival happen. Bless them all! This year, the festival did things a little differently, and because of their new organization of student workshops, I was able to lead a "Driver" workshop with student writers who were actively interested in fiction writing.

Oh, how can I describe how fluttery and satisfied my heart was after leading my workshops? And how I wish all schools had the means to host literary festivals that celebrate creative writing and the power of words. Look at these kids' faces. Their faces tell us what we need to know.