The title of today's blog post is "Saturday Morning With Some Girl Guides." You are probably wondering why I'm hanging out with Girl Guides on a Saturday morning -- and not sleeping in! Espeically because we've had a lot of snow and it was a perfect day for sleeping in -- and hibernating!!
But if you look at the top left corner of today's pic, you'll see Heidi Shapiro, whom I taught more than 20 years ago at Marianopolis College. Heidi recently got in touch to tell me she helps run a Girl Guide troop, and that her fourteen-year-old daughter Kaelyn, an aspiring writer, is a member. Also, several of the girls had read my historical novel, The Taste of Rain, which is set in China and tells the story of a group of kids who, during the wartime, found the strength to survive great difficulties by adhering to the Girl Guide code.
When I was telling the girls that rewriting is the secret to writing well, I asked them whether, now that I've published 29 books, my first drafts are any good. Sarah answered, "Maybe. Maybe not." I like the sound of those two sentences,don't you? And then I told Sarah, "Not!" I went on to explain that this is perhaps the most important writing tip I can share: that first drafts are always awful -- even after you publish many books! Writing is just as hard for me now as it was for me when I was the age of the girls I spoke to this morning.
When I asked the girls whether they enjoy reading, Coralie made a face that seemd to say "so so." When I asked her about her experience reading, Coralie talked about a book her teacher had been reading in class, but which Coralie did not enjoy. I told Coralie to talk to her friends to get book recommendations. That's what I do! There is a book for every reader -- we just need to find it! And later, I must say I was pleased when Coralie showed me her copy of The Taste of Rain. It turns out I had inscribed it -- and that I'd met Coralie's mom at a Girl Guide event last year. It also turns out that Coralie goes to Lauren Hill Academy because in my inscription, I'd asked her to say hello to my friend Mr. Adams, who teaches there -- and Coralie told me she'd done it. It's a little story, but it makes me happy! (Also the real Mr. Adams is a character in my book 121 Express -- but that's jsut a side note.)
Karina asked an excellent question: "Did you ever stop writing a book because you weren't interested in it anymore?" You know, no one ever asked me that before. And I said the answer was yes. It's okay to put projects aside, but it's also important to stick with a project -- and it's normal to sometimes feel fed up with a project. Now I wish I'd told the girls something author Tamora Pierce once told me, "No word a writer writes is ever wasted." I SO LOVE THAT. AND IT IS SO TRUE.
I had to laugh when Emma Rose asked me, "How is it after 29 books, you still have ideas?" So I told her, "It's because I'm an IDEA FACTORY." I laugh even writing those words now. I hope you are an idea factory too. All it takes is a notebook, a pen, and the desire to pay attention to the world around you. Stories are everywhere. It's up to us to find them!