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Thursday, June 24, 2021

A Writer's Moment: 'Beautiful, Tasteful, Appealing and Important'

A Writer's Moment: 'Beautiful, Tasteful, Appealing and Important': “Let's put it this way: if you are a novelist, I think you start out with a 20 word idea, and you work at it and you...

'Beautiful, Tasteful, Appealing and Important'

“Let's put it this way: if you are a novelist, I think you start out with a 20 word idea, and you work at it and you wind up with a 200,000 word novel. We, picture-book people, or at least I, start out with 200,000 words and I reduce it to 20.” – Eric Carle


Writing as a journalist would be good training for the writer of children’s books, but if I were an editor I’d be asking someone like Carle the best way to write them, because he was an expert at it with the award-winning books he produced.  Of course his wonderful artwork didn’t hurt either.


Carle, who was born on June 25, 1929 and died last month, was the author of the mega-selling best sellers, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?   He said he always attempted to make his books both entertaining and educational – offering readers opportunities to learn something about the world around them.  He also advised writers wanting to work in the childrens’ literature genre’ to “recognize children’s feelings, inquisitiveness and creativity.”

 
 
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which has very few words but speaks volumes, has been translated into 58 languages and sold over 40 million copies.  Overall, Carle illustrated or wrote 70 books with 125 million copies in print.  In 2003 he won the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for his career contribution to American children’s literature. 

“We have eyes, and we're looking at stuff all the time, all day long,” Carle said. “I just think that whatever our eyes touch should be beautiful, tasteful, appealing, and important.”
 
 

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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

A Writer's Moment: 'Every Page A Gem'

A Writer's Moment: 'Every Page A Gem': “I like the idea that every page in every book can have a gem on it. It's probably what I love most about writing - ...

'Every Page A Gem'

“I like the idea that every page in every book can have a gem on it. It's probably what I love most about writing - that words can be used in a way that's like a child playing in a sandpit, rearranging things, swapping them around.”  Markus Zusak

The Book Thief, Zusak's heart-wrenching novel about the awful years in Germany during the late 1930s and through World War II, was written when he was still in 20s.  Published in 2005, the novel followed on the heels of two other award-winning novels I Am the Messenger and When Dogs Cry.   Born in Australia on this date in 1975, Zusak has written half-a-dozen best sellers.  The Book Thief alone was on the New York Times bestseller list for a remarkable 375 weeks.  
 
 His writing career is a testament to perserverance and “knowing that a story is    
worth fighting to get published.”  He wrote When Dogs Cry as a teenager and it took him 7 years to get it accepted.  Since then it’s not only sold continuously but also won many awards around the globe, as has Zusak, who was named for the annual Margaret Edwards Award in 2014 for his contribution to young-adult literature.    “I try hard and aim big,” Zusak said.   “People can hate or love my books but they can never accuse me of not trying.”

“Failure has been my best friend as a writer,” he said after finally getting When Dogs Cry published.  “It tests you, to see if you have what it takes to see it through.” 

 

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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

A Writer's Moment: Flipping On The Writing Switch

A Writer's Moment: Flipping On The Writing Switch:   “Writing's funny, it's like walking down a hall in the dark looking for the light switch, and suddenly you find it, flip it on, an...

Flipping On The Writing Switch

 “Writing's funny, it's like walking down a hall in the dark looking for the light switch, and suddenly you find it, flip it on, and then you discover the hallway you passed through is papered with the novel you've written.– Jonathan Safran Foer


Words are capable of making experience more vivid, and also of organizing it. They can scare us, and they can comfort us, Foer says.  Currently a professor in the Writing Program at NYU, Foer was just breaking onto the market when he wrote his critically acclaimed novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close about a young boy dealing with the death of his father on 9/11.

The book was subsequently made into a movie, nominated for Academy Awards in both the Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor categories. While it starred Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock and Max von Sydow ( the Best Supporting Actor nominee), it was Tom Horn as the 9-year-old protagonist who received most of the acclaim for his heart-wrenching interpretation of the words that Foer had written.
 

Foer, born in 1977, also is acclaimed for his non-fiction works, especially 2019’s We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast.


He says he likes to approach writing like a sculptor.  “There are two kinds of sculptures,” he said. “There's the kind that subtracts: Michelangelo starts with a block of marble and chips away. And then there is the kind that adds, building with clay, piling it on. The way I write novels is to keep piling on and piling on and piling on."
 

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Monday, June 21, 2021