Books on writing books

Writing Assignment - Publishing / Reflections
Photo by Enokson

Only a small percentage of the books I own are fiction.  The vast majority, as noted in the post on Aspirational Clutter, are non-fiction, books that are meant to improve my life somehow or to impart their most fascinating tidbits of information to the corners of my brain.  Here in my office, the books have three main themes: finances; success (of many sorts); and fiction writing.

Fiction writing?  Didn’t I just say I don’t even read fiction?  Oh, but I do, just not fiction written for adults!  Many years ago (more than twenty, in fact) when I began teaching elementary school, I began a mission to own every Newbery Award and Newbery Honor book I could.  Some, sadly, are out of print, but I probably have 75% of them by now.  (I’m behind on the current books because I use them as birthday and Christmas gift suggestions.)  These books are excellent literature for all ages, doomed to be missed by many adults due to the simple fact that they have a child or a teenager as the protagonist.

I have my favorite Newbery authors, and many of them have won the award numerous times.  Laura Ingalls Wilder received the Newbery Honor five times for her later Little House books.  Russell Freedman has won once and received three Newbery Honors for his historical photojournalism books.  Elizabeth George Speare won two Newbery Awards and a Newbery Honor, as has Katherine Paterson.  Jerry Spinelli has one of each, as do Karen Cushman, Cynthia Voight and Susan Cooper.  Voight and Cooper have each written a favorite series of mine: Voight’s Tillerman Cycle and Cooper’s Dark is Rising Series.

Why all this talk of children’s books and their authors?  Well…  I would like to be one of them.  I’d like to write a children’s/young adult series that wins a Newbery Medal or two.  How’s that for ambition, considering I haven’t a story to my name?  I have been stockpiling books that are going to help me to write, when I know that all I need to do is actually write. I’m going to need to release most of these books, join a writing group, and get to work.  Kate DiCamillo once said that she never wants to write, but she forces herself to write two pages a day, and she is glad she did it once it’s over.

On Mother’s Day a year or two ago, Karen Cushman gave a talk at a local bookstore.  She had brought along her Newbery Medal, and I got to hold it.  It gave me chills.  I told her I wanted to win one, and she perked up and said, “Oh! Are you an author?”

I said, “Not yet, but I will be.”

  • {Body Fat} released: Good workout with Charles yesterday.  First time lifting weights in a while, so we took it slow and kept cool.
  • {Clutter} released: Two small storage lockers, 7 three-ring binders, a pile of maze books, a couple of handwriting workbooks, a bag of Hot Wheels track and a ramp for a remote-controlled car.  Quinland and I have been working on converting her old playroom to a scrapbook room for the two of us to share.

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