Friday, September 11, 2015

3 Words To The Wise To New Writers

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Howdy, Campers--Happy Poetry Friday! The link is at the bottom of the page, right below my poem.

Our topic this round is Dear Younger Me. JoAnn started us off by encouraging her younger self not only to carry around notebooks...but to actually go back and mine them for ideas. Esther lovingly reassures her younger self--as she has encouraged me and countless others. Carla talks to her past self when she decided to write what would become her first nonfiction book.

I love this topic. We seem to be universally hard on ourselves. I am constantly giving myself tickets for the things I haven't accomplished...
Are you intimidated by the police in your head?
Have you considered the possibility that you haven't done anything wrong?
So here's what I'd tell my younger self...the one embarking on a voyage to the Children's Book Writers Planet:

Dear Enthusiastic, Younger, Much-Prettier-Than-You-Realize-Right-Now Me,

~ Trust your gut. I know, I know. Your mother kept saying this and you looked at her cross-eyed.

What in the heck does that MEAN?

Well--it means yes, take those classes, read children's literature, find a critique group, attend conferences, read how-to books...

...but give yourself the silence in which to discover that still, small voice within. She's there, I promise. But she whispers. The crazy clutter of our culture makes is hard to locate her (and Honey, it's only going to get worse, believe me. Buckle your seat belt.) 

She knows when that marvelous critique group is sending your story in the wrong direction, when the business advice you just heard from the podium does not fit your work habits or your style or your something-else.

Trust her. Wander with her. She usually doesn't take the well-traveled path.

~ Be patient. Ha ha--that's a good one, right? When you're still in your twenties, your very smart husband will say."Y'know...I think we'll both reach our peak in our 50s and 60s."  HA! He can't be right, can he?

Um...yup.

~ Keep creating content.  That is, keep writing books. Because one day you could look up after visiting 19 gazillion schools, and you'll not only be exhausted to the bone...but your books will begin going out of print. ACK!

So yes, accept invitations to do school visits and teach workshops, because you love teaching.  But be careful not to let them take over your writing time like some big blobby thing.

It's so tempting, isn't it? Your ego is definitely well-fed by those second graders who think you're the Queen of England.
from Morguefile.com

That's all, Kiddo. You'll do fine.

Oh--one more thing: slow down when you read your beautiful kid bedtime stories. I know, I know: you want to get to your work, but trust me...take a breath, take your time, and soak in the pleasure of reading to your kid.

Love,
me

P.S: I know you're not going to take any of this advice. And that's okay, too.

TO MY TEEN SELF
by April Halprin Wayland

Michael is lying.

Michael is lying.
I know that you're flying on wings of romance.
His teeth gleam, he loves you--well, at least at first glance.

But Michael is caught in the web he is weaving
Michael is out the door.
Michael is leaving.
Michael is lying.
Michael is lying.
Oh, dear.
It's coming:

the Niagara of crying.

poem and drawing (c) 2015 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved.
Thanks to my friend Robyn Hood Black for hosting today!

posted by April Halprin Wayland with the help of that still, small voice within.

11 comments:

Linda Baie said...

I think I like that "niagara of crying" the most, April. Thanks for the advice! Did you follow it, at least sometimes? :)

JoAnn Early Macken said...

I love that you call your younger self Honey. You are so right that many of us are too hard on ourselves--how counterproductive! Thanks for the reminder to be kinder.

Susan J Berger said...

Love the advice and love the poem - the rhythm and the word choices. Thank you!

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

Oh April, this is wonderful. I know the ghost of your younger self will appreciate this is retrospect. I also hope there weren't too many waterfalls.

Donna Smith said...

Loved your talk to yourself. The Niagra of tears was beautiful. AND wasn't sure others were as hard on themselves as I am on myself... I take comfort in that - though still not a good thing! Thanks!

Mary Lee said...

Great advice!

Irene Latham said...

Dear April, this is wise advice. We are hard on ourselves, aren't we? And yes, those kids disappear... sigh. I would tell myself "you are exactly where you are meant to be." It's what I tell myself every day now. Wish I'd been wise enough to realize that much earlier! xo

Robyn Hood Black said...

Well, wisdom is earned I guess! Thanks so much for sharing yours. (Like Linda, I love that "Niagra of crying" - ha!) XO

Rani Iyer said...

Excellent advice for all writers! Thank you April. Love your poetry!

mary ann rodman said...

April--I love the poem! I am sure that in one of my teen journals I have twenty page account of something like that, but you have condensed it to a couple of lines. Love it!

Carmela Martino said...

>>Keep creating content<<
I wish someone had said this to me, April! Still trying to make up for lost time.
Thanks so much for the inspiration, and for your lovely poem.