How do we survive as people, as artists and as publishing professionals? If you have three days in September, I’m extending an invitation to join me in the woods to figure it out.
I will lead a workshop at the Highlights Foundation with illustrator Carolyn Dee Flores and art director Ellice Lee. If you’ve never been to this beautiful place, picture rolling hills and cabins, all the ice cream you can eat and a chance to think and write for three days with people who, like you, are working to become professional, self-sustaining writers.
I’ve been to Highlights before, sometimes as a special guest, once as a writing fellow, other times leading workshops. Over the years, I’ve worked with all kinds of folks, from scholars trying to write academic papers on subjects no one was covering, to teachers, like Ernesto Cisneros, whose upcoming debut novel, Efrén Divided, we worked on together in two rocking chairs in front of his cabin. What we both remember most is his reaction to hearing his words read aloud for the first time, that moment when he thought he might actually see this through to publication.
There are selfish motives for me, too. The truth is that while I’ve given advice, I’ve also received beautiful gifts of inspiration and practical help in return. For example, a few years ago Andi Michelson created a reusable Velcro book dummy for me after I explained to our group different ways we test our text for pacing and page-turns.
This time, it’s all about vision and risk-taking. I plan to share my private notes from before I made the decision to write for children, including the very first time I wrote a mission statement that dared to include writing as a goal. I will help participants do the same and share the daily practices I use to stay inspired and healthy on all fronts. We can look forward to Carolyn leading us in innovative ways to storyboard, even if we’re not artists, and Ellice will help us snag those innovative ideas that editors and art directors hunger for. And, of course, we’ll have plenty of time to write and share what we’re doing.
I don’t have all the answers. I have no magic pill for a career in publishing. But I do have a toolbox of things that worked for me that I’m willing to share. I also know that a few days away from life’s responsibilities is a good start in reconnecting with your most urgent dreams.
If you’re free, we have a few more spots. I’d love to have you.
See you in the woods…
Check here for information and registration.