I've enjoyed reading my fellow Teaching Authors' current series of posts about turning "life into art." Of course, as Mary Ann indicates, nearly all of us get our ideas from some event we've experienced in life, even though some of us (not I) might be more inclined to use them in the context of a dystopian novel set on Mars in the year 3013.
I recently attended a writing conference where author Erica Bauermeister was the inspiring keynote speaker. She told us that her first manuscript was a memoir. It received positive feedback from editors but was not, ultimately, published because (to paraphrase) no one wants to read the non-dysfunctional real-life story of someone who's not famous. However, an editor asked her to pitch something else, and she ultimately embarked on a project that became two books: 500 Great Books for Women and Let's Hear It for the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. Reading hundreds of novels for those projects was a terrific education, Bauermeister says. However, by the time she had completed this gargantuan task, she was nearly 50 when she wrote her first novel -- which was promptly published and became a bestseller. She said that she is convinced that she was not ready to write fiction until she had done a certain amount of living -- in her case, raising children, moving to Italy -- and that bits of those stories were scattered throughout her fictional characters' lives.
I have done a ton of "living" in this last decade since marrying and having children. It has also, not coincidentally been the least productive writing decade of my life. Juggling three jobs and two kids is getting easier as they are now entering first and third grade (and I just sent them off a few mintues ago for day #1). I remember when we were at Vermont College and JoAnn Early Macken's children were young. The constant theme of her writing then was time (or the lack thereof). Ah, how I can relate!
And so I have determined that it's time to take back a little time for myself so that I can write about the experiences I've now had the privilege of seeing through my children's eyes. Instead of writing ABOUT writing, I'm going to just write.
This isn't exactly a "goodbye post" (for one thing, I have one more blog post to write), but more like a "see you soon." It has been great getting to know all of you through Teaching Authors over these past four years.
I wish everyone a wonderful school year and a happy, productive writing year, too! --Jeanne Marie
Also, don't forget--time is running out to enter our giveaway for a chance to win one of two copies of Esther's terrific new board book, Txtng Mama Txtng Baby. See her blog post for details.