A Letter to Students and Writers

Dear Beloved Students,

We are looking at the finish line and it isn’t even Spring Break! Yet, in less than three months you will be frolicking in summer splendor and I will be promoting my novel which comes out June 1st. Here are some thoughts to finish the year with a flourish.

Give as much attention to revising as creating – March is creative writing month and April is poetry so you will be tempted to whip through these “easy” units because you all love to write stories. Please don’t. I’m just finishing up with the copy editor on my novel. This means it’s been through too many revisions for me to count, well over fifty. I’ve learned a few things along the way. If I tell some of  them to you now, you will save yourself much agony in the future.

1.  Remember to save your work. The late night scream and subsequent crying because you forgot to save something brings a ton of stress upon the household. I’ve forgotten that pdf’s (read only), made corrections on them and then tried to save it but you can’t save on “read only” files. Save the work before you begin revising so you don’t wake up in the morning and find an empty black hole is waiting for you in My Docs.

2.  When you were little, it was show and tell, now its show don’t tell. Robert Louis Stevenson shows us how it’s done in The Black Arrow.The path went down and down into the marsh, till he lost sight of the neighboring landmarks but Kettley windmill on the knoll behind him, the extreme top of Tunstall Forest far below. On either hand there were great fields of blowing reeds and willows, pools of water shaking in the wind and treacherous bogs, as green as emerald, to tempt and betray the traveler.” Can you see the movie behind your eyelids? (All credit to Mrs. Michael.)

3.  Don’t head hop from one character’s POV to another character’s POV and then to someone else or we will all be so confused, even the characters. Know who is telling your story and stick to it. Keep your tenses consistent.

4.  Read your work aloud. Read it to someone you trust and someone who knows nothing about it. Your baby brother who is wandering around with his Thomas the Tank engine in his sticky hand is a good listener, but don’t count on him for feedback. If there is no one else, he’ll do. A group of three students in my Core 201 class are working on a novel and they share their work with each other at lunch. Who do you trust to share your creativity with? Find those people.

5. I’ve been working on this for twenty minutes and I just saved it. Ahhh…peace. Oh wait, let me revise this list one more time.

Plan right now what you are going to read over Spring Break.  Read whatever you want. You are free from your reading list! Pick out something you’ve been saving for when you don’t have to read a required book. Take a break from Middle English or the Ancient Romans and pick something FUN. I’ll be reading Texas Rich. You know I’m obsessed with all things Texas. Do you know why? Remember, you all agreed to read a thousand books before you write your first one! Who said that? Linda Sue Park, right- good for you for remembering. Here is her website if you don’t remember who she is: www.lindasuepark.com If you don’t know what to read over Spring Break, read her book, A Single Shard.I look forward to our remaining creative months together. Happy revising!

Forever yours,

Mrs. P.

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