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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Maintaining the 'wonder'

“Other writers definitely influence my writing. What encourages me and inspires me is when I read a good book. It makes me want to be a better writer.” – Kimberly Willis Holt

When I was first writing young adult literature, I was impressed with the work of Kim Holt and always remembered one of her sayings which I've since found to be extremely accurate.  “My biggest disappointment (as a writer),” she said, “is that once I’m finished working on the characters, I really do expect to see them in the flesh one day.” Like Holt, I’ve found it hard to “let those characters go” once I finish the book.

Best known for the novel When Zachary Beaver Came to Town, which won the 1999 U.S. National Book Award for Young People's Literature, Holt was born on this date to a US Navy Chief in Pensacola, Florida,  but spent most of her childhood in Forest Hill, Louisiana.  That “growing up” experience inspired her award-winning first novel, My Louisiana Sky, and her experiences as a “Navy brat” are reflected in her Piper Reed series. 

Like Holt, I'm amazed how the tiniest moments can grow into books, and as Holt noted, “I hope the wonder of what happens to my characters never goes away. That yearning keeps me writing.”

Holt also has some great advice for young authors who say they struggle with “wrapping up” a piece on which they’re working.  “If you're having trouble finishing a book, it might be that you're trying to hard to fix it as you go. Just finish the story, no matter how terrible you think that first draft is. Then let it cool off. In other words,” she said,  “don't look at it for a while. Then you can rewrite it.”

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