Wordy Wednesday

Karen Cushman

Last night, I spent the evening listening to a writer who has been a genuine inspiration to me. She was one of the first speakers I heard at the big SCBWI conference in LA, and when I heard that one of her favorite picture books

(How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen) was also one of my family’s favorites, I paid even closer attention to her pearls of wisdom. What especially stuck with me then was her admonishment to find your own passion and embrace it. There were times when I was deep in research about a tiny place in population-deprived eastern Montana, in a dreary time in American history, that I fretted about whether anyone else would ever love this time, place and people as I did. When those worries froze me, I would warm myself with Karen’s words, wrapping them tight around me. When Hattie Big Sky came out, Karen was gracious enough to write a lovely endorsement for it. She’s smart and funny and confident and generous. As far as I can tell, her only flaw is that her books don’t come out often enough!

As always, when I get to hear her speak, I carry away a seed I can plant in my own writing heart. Last night, she shared common words of advice to writers — BIC (butt in chair), write every day, write what you know — and how she followed none of those practices! She blazes her own writing trail and urged us to do the same. I’m really taking to heart her reminder that our writing will have no heart if we don’t have balance — there must be work AND repose. These words came at the perfect timing for me, as I begin a new book and wrestle with that feeling that I’m not doing anything when I sit and think. I’m taking permission from Karen to woolgather as much as I need to!

How about you? What words to the wise have really spoken to you, kept you going or maybe even got your dander up so that you worked even harder to prove the words otherwise?

Please share!