Week Eight - Writing for Children and Teens
From Inspiration to Publication
Insecurity vs. Determination - Who Will Win?
July 26, 2016
I remember reading about Julia Child’s first weeks at cooking school in Paris. The chef laughed at her because she couldn’t slice an onion. She herself couldn’t believe she didn’t know how to properly slice an onion. On her way home, she bought a huge bag of onions. Back in her kitchen, she sharpened her chopping knife and cut onions over and over until she could slice an onion exactly as her teacher expected. She felt inadequate, but knew it wasn’t impossible.
I need a bag of onions.
This week I feel confused about what will make my writing better. I’m unsure about whether my writing is good at all. Quite frankly, I’m wondering if I should have even started this course.
I’m scared that I’ll find out I won’t get better. I walk from room to room trying to think of something to do to help move me into action instead of self-pity. Wanting to be a good writer isn’t enough. I know I must write and take risks like letting others read my writing. My instructor, for example, reads my work and wants me to cut out at least 20% of my words. When he suggests I select my words more carefully it feels like he’s telling me he thinks I don’t understand what some words even mean.
My solution? I find people who love me and ask them what they think. They say I’m right which is exactly what I want to hear. They’re good friends who want me to be happy, but I know I must push through. I know this is part of the process. I take out my writing notebook and write an arc for a story that isn’t working. There, I think, I can too write. But my heart is not at peace and my stomach is bothering me. I’m avoiding working on something that feels too difficult.
Again I consider the possibility of quitting.
Misery isn’t productive, but I’m not sure how to move forward. I remember that I want to write a nonfiction piece. I’ve been excited about this story for several months and I think now is the time to research and try again. I believe this is what’s called getting back in the saddle or back on the horse or something else cowboy-related.
I take out one of ICL’s resource books I received with my course materials, Searching: A Research Guide for Writers. Reading the first chapter feels like a step in the right direction. I learn how to find facts to support and explain the topic I’ve chosen. The more I read, the more I can’t wait to learn more. It is a slow path to recovery from the damage my insecurity has done.
Remembering Julia Child’s determination, I remind myself I must keep writing and revising and reworking if I want this to happen.
I might cry.
I might feel inadequate.
But I know that it is not impossible for me to write well. Writing is a learned skill. My brain is interesting. I think in fantastically different ways. I really do! But, I have not put in the time it takes to become an excellent writer––yet.
Do you know what Marginalia is? It is the notes that people write about their thinking found in the margins of a text. I love to buy used books in which the previous owner has written in the margins. "Remember this!" might be scrawled and, if they didn’t underline a part, I try to figure out which part the reader wished to remember. Interacting with text has always played a critical part in my life.
I am a reader. I remember so much of what I read.
Writing has not played as large a role in my life––until now. It’s only in the past year that I’ve begun to make writing a daily priority. This blog at ICL is my writing marginalia for this course. This is where I write about my reading and writing. This is where I think it through and process how it feels.
I am scared.
I am reaching out to find the next hold that will keep me climbing. Last night I agonized over how to get over my fear of failure. Instead of giving myself the out, I gave myself the in. Go back to it, I told myself––write about it. This the part of life where I must act as if until it becomes real, right? I both curse and bless myself for writing these blog posts because now you will all see my conflict. This is the inner conflict that controls me if I let it, but I won’t. I plan to cut my words and find more precise vocabulary. I intend to use what I’m learning in this course in the hopes that I become a stronger writer who is capable of seeing what needs to be revised. I want to find a way to write the words that show my voice and my style and my thinking.
I believe it is possible, I just need to buy another bag of onions and sharpen my knife.
Kimberley Moran's site
Kimberley Moran is a gifted and talented teacher and freelance writer who lives in Hampden, Maine. She has two children and one very nice husband. Kimberley would like her bio to make her sound brilliant, witty, and kind because she knows that when you write and read you get to be anyone you want to be.