Yesterday afternoon, novelist Heather O'Neill -- author of the prize winning Lullabies for Criminals -- visited Marianopolis, the college where I teach. Heather read from her novel and she also read a very clever short story that was a contemporary retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. It's always interesting to hear a writer reading something you've read and enjoyed -- you get to hearthe words in the writer's own voice. So, I enjoyed the reading part of the event, and I also really enjoyed when Heather answered questions from the audience. And the students had a lot of great questions! Here are some of the things I learned from Heather: She told us she has always been very observant and that that skill informs her writing. "I love details," she said when one young woman in the audience remarked that there are many references to the characters' clothing in Lullabies. Heather also pointed out that clothes can be really important to teens -- because they don't have that much other "stuff." Heather explained that her stories tend to be "very character-driven." This is something I talk about a lot in my Writing for Children class -- I think the best plots grow organically once a writer has a clear sense of her (or his) characters. Heather also told us she tries to write every day. My favourite moment came when a student asked if Heather ever feels as if her work is no good. Heather's answer: "Every day!"
Well, that certainly got a laugh -- and it's also a comment to help inspire the rest of us writers when we're not feeling so great about whatever project we might be working on. The trick, of course, as I keep reminding myself and you in this blog, is not to give up.
Speaking of which, I'm just home from school. Going to put some chicken and potatoes in the oven and then I'm going back to my polar bear (that's code for my manuscript that is set in Nunavik.) Have a great rest of the day!