Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Twenty-five years could it be?

More than twenty-five years passed from Uncle Abe's letters recalling his boyhood escapades to the publication of Duck Dreams: City Boy to Farmer Boy.  How could that be?

Part of it is that I had to learn to write for children.  I had published numerous articles about children's books and writers for children.  Two books ate up a good deal of time and energy in those twenty-five years.  One was for adults, urging parents to read to their children and recommending books likely to engage children.  This book, which went into three editions, was a collaboration with Professor Margaret Mary Kimmel.  Maggie taught children's literature in the Library Science Department; I taught it in the English Department.  The second book,  Short Takes, was a collection of stories I compiled for middle-grade children.  I chose the stories, recruited the writers--Lois Lowry, Philippa Pearce, Robert Cormier, E. L. Konigsburg, and others--and I  wrote introductions to each story.  But this wasn't teaching me to write for children.

About when Short Takes came out, I took a key step that would prepare me to write for children.  I joined Sally Alexander's critique group.  No one could have helped me more--Sally is herself a marvelous writer.  As a critic and teacher, she is unparalleled.  More on our group--its leader and helpful participants--in the next blog entry.

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