Wednesday, June 6, 2012

It's never too late!

More years ago than I care to count, I mailed myself a lovely greeting card with the following message hand-printed on an antique press:

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

The words belong to English novelist Mary Ann Evans whose pen name was George Eliot but I took them to be mine and shaped them into a mantra of sorts.

Of course I had to tweak Eliot’s words, changing the be to become.

I love that verb become and the infinite number of ever-changing nouns and adjectives it can take on in a lifetime.

It brings to mind the often-quoted words of Jean Karl who founded Athenem and first published authors Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, E.L. Koenigsburg and Judith Viorst.

“A children’s book respects…..a child’s capacity to become.”

Becoming is very much on my mind this morning because tonight begins my Summer Workshop “The Write Place,” a facilitated children’s book writers group, at Chicago’s Newberry Library.

Each of my twelve writers declares a project for the six-week workshop – revising a picture book manuscript, defining a book’s setting and world, developing a novel’s plotline, creating a synopsis, and has the opportunity to share his work and progress in a supportive environment.

Usually, I begin the workshop by reading aloud a children’s book certain to inspire, encourage, and like all children’s book, offer Hope.
Last year I read my students Holly Meade’s picture book If I Never Ever Endeavor.
Other years I’ve read Peter Reynolds’ The Dot, Ruth Krauss’ The Carrot Seed, William Steig’s Brave Irene.

This year, though, I realized it’s the 10th year I’ve offered this workshop!  Revisiting the rosters of the last nine years, my teacher’s heart quickened:  so many of my students had
realized their writer's dreams!

So tonight, I will share my Students’ Success Stories and how it clearly wasn’t too late for them to become – a writer, an author, a reviewer, a blogger, a teacher, an MFA candidate, an MFA-degree holder, a writing community leader, proud, committed, professional, connected.

One of those students is author Natalie Ziarnik, whose interview appeared last week and whose debut picture book Madeleine’s Light: The Story of Camille Claudel you can still win if you enter our BookGiveaway by midnight tonight.  The clock is tick-tick-ticking away!

Speaking of which, remember: it's never too late!

Esther Hershenhorn

Writing Workout

 I encourage my writing students to begin an Author’s File and then commit to paper their story’s story spark, their vision for the project when published, a working biography, attempts at answering the questions they’re certain to be asked once published – i.e. Why do you write for children?  What’s your favorite children’s book?  When did you begin writing?

But what about their vision for themselves?

Here’s the writing assignment I’ll be sharing tonight:  visit and write your future you an email!  Send along some words of inspiration, or as the website suggests, “a kick in the pants.”  The best part is: you can pick the day and year the email will be delivered to you in the future!  Just follow the website’s directions re choosing an email address.


1 comment:

Linda at teacherdance said...

Esther, thanks for sharing the beginnings of your workshop. What fun to send yourself a future e-mail. I hope you have a terrific group this year. Wish I was in the area to take part.