It's PiBoIdMo 2015-  have you signed up??

Well, the week was NOT productive in my writing....but pay a babysitter for an hour and a half today and ....  WOW!

I got to read the whole week of posts and this week they were AMAZING!  I have several pages of notes, a list of activities to work on (buy a notebook for my purse, purchase some index cards and index card boxes, rethink my daily goals, etc.), and added some actual picture book ideas to my incredibly short list (no, I do not even have a list of 14, but I have quite a few more than I did when I woke up this morning).

So I've decided the babysitter thing just may need to be a habit.  My son had a blast.  My only restriction to them was no TV.  I can plug him in front of that brain killing machine myself if I need to.  But a mere $8 got him total undivided attention.  While a little distracting since I placed myself in the dining room (in the middle of the rooms where they were) I also got to listen to him be creative and laugh- a LOT - which is music to a mother's ears and pretty inspirational for a writer to boot!

I can't decide on my  favorite post for this week like I did last week.  But I would say that the words of Janna Matthies, Denise Fleming and Julie Gribble were the most helpful to me at this point in my writing.  All for various reasons, though perhaps it's the insight of Denise Fleming that might keep me going for the long haul....  she reminds us that not only for every good idea are there probably about 50 'stinkers', but that we really should keep EVERY IDEA-- even the ones we think are bad or totally ridiculous.... because you never know where even years from now, that ridiculous, bad idea may lead to the inspiration of your best idea ever. So hold onto them- and keep going back to them to revisit and you may just be surprised one day.

I've been thinking more about the whole twaddle vs. living books as I discussed again in last week's post.  I spend much too much time on Facebook, and have been gradually cutting back (I do not want the most vivid memory of me by my children to include me holding my phone to check Facebook, Words With Friends, or even PiBoIdMo) on using my phone-  but if I do find myself on Facebook, it's usually to check out what's going on at the Ambleside page.  So many really good discussions. One constant discussion topic is the whole twaddle vs. living books debate.  Obviously this is tied into my writing life.  As I discussed last week- I worry about the children's market being so much more geared to twaddle and 'entertaining' kids rather than truly filling their minds with living books - quality books that feed the mind and ignite their passions.

Always on the Ambleside Online page there are questions posted stating , "Is this book twaddle?  What should I do if my child loves to read twaddle?  Should I let my beginning reader read these books she loves if it's twaddle?"  I am always a little shocked at the tone of those telling these mothers to take all the twaddle away.  These kids, they say, will not develop good taste for real literature or a sound vocabulary if they fill their minds with twaddle.  But personally, I'm thinking, why would you take away a book that makes a child WANT to read???  Why would you risk killing that desire to read a book by FORCING them to only read the books that YOU consider LIVING?  Isn't one of the concepts of a living book is that it entices the mind of the child?  If a book is enticing your child to read....makes them hunger for more words on the page....why would you ban it?  If it's not filling up the mind with something immoral, why would you take it away?  Wouldn't it be better to make sure you are reading them living books and giving them choices that include living books rather than insisting they never read something that YOU consider twaddle?

I will not read Scooby Doo to my son.  But I will allow him to bring one home from the library for him to look at himself (or allow someone else in the family to read it to him once in awhile).  Nor will I  buy a book that I consider to be totally twaddle...well- there might be an exception here and there. But if there's a book that makes my child WANT to read on his own (and it's not immoral in any way) then I WILL allow him to read it.  It does not mean that's all he's ever going to read.  I'm not going to go through my bookshelves and immediately throw out all that might be considered twaddle by the ladies on Ambleside.  I think they mean well....but I also think they are missing the point.

Well- enough of my ramblings on twaddle today.  I need to throw out my cold coffee and get some things done (including revisiting my PiBoIdMo notes and my idea page) now before my Movie Night with my youngest son today.  It will be the first time he'll get to watch The Wizard of Oz - my desire to offer him classic movies rather than the twaddle of today and reinforce his infatuation with tornadoes!  Pray with me that the green faced witch and flying monkeys are seen as funny and not scary!

Last week,in my post titled Writing Should Be Fun,  I posted about a writing exercise my son and I enjoy doing together as part of our homeschooling.  I think I'll continue this week by posting another fun exercise or two.

First, before my son and I do our other exercises, we do a Just Write.  A Just Write is simply setting the timer for a pre-determined amount of time (usually 5-10 minutes) and just writing whatever comes to mind. It's sort of a free-association type exercise to get the mind flowing and ideas on paper. A lot of writers or teachers may call this Free Writing time.  For example, here's a sample page my son wrote over a year ago when we were just starting these exercises:

       Alexander is the best.  He has blinky tennis shoes that he doesn't like because he just doesn't like new shoes which is weird because I love new shoes.  New shoes are shiny.  Alexander is taking a bath.  I'm drinking water and writing with Mom.  What should I say?  Mom got me an awesome new pen yesterday.  It's supposedly the first type of pen made from recycled bottles.  I like recycling.  I also like my Matt Baker pen.  My arm hurts because of how much writing I'm doing now.  The dog can be annoying sometimes. She is licking her paws and making loud noises.  My mom also got me a cool binder with awesome paper that I'm using right now. Mom writes fast.

Now you may be wondering what is the purpose of this.  I'll tell you.  I know it looks like a bunch of jumbled thoughts and it is.  We also don't worry about capitalization or punctuation (again, as I talked in my last post Writing Should Be Fun, this is the creative aspect not the mechanics) when we do the Just Writes because the time is to just write...to put thoughts down on paper even if they are random and don't make sense together.  Sometimes they are more focused on one subject, sometimes less so.  But in sharing our Just Writes together and in reading over them later, it offers us some creative ideas to write about.  I can look at the above paragraph and find several writing ideas:

  • New Shoes
  • The Sounds A Dog Makes
  • Recycling
  • Objects Made From Recycling

So, often we can use these exercises to spark ideas for other writing exercises or assignments/projects.  Which reminds me... I haven't come up with an idea today for PiBoIdMo yet .... maybe I'll read a few more of our past exercises and an idea may leap off the page before me!

In addition to the sparking of ideas, it's great fun time between my son and I to exchange what we each have written. It's funny to see how often we both write about the same topics but have our own personal perspective on it or to see how we each may describe the same thing differently.  This makes it a great tool to develop perception and descriptions skills too!

Another Exercise:

After I shared last week's post, a mother shared with me another exercise she does with her homeschooled children.  She draws a stick figure and has them label where they have scars or have had injuries on their bodies.  They use this to write stories about how they became injured.  I thought this was a really cute idea!  She titled this exercise the 'boo boo memoirs'! (Thanks Alesha!)

Let me know if and when you use any of these exercises and if they are helpful!

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~ William Wordsworth            

                                William Wordsworth  (7 April 1770 – 23 April 1850) was a major English Romantic poet.

2

I knew about Nano (National Novel Writing Month) which is held in November each year and challenges to write a novel in one month, or 50,000 words which, according to the website, is doable even for an active person.  Do they know what I do in a day??  (laughing incredulously).  Well, I tried Nano once.  I don't recall how many words I accomplished that year, but it certainly wasn't close to 50,ooo and I wasn't as busy then as I am now!Someday, maybe, I'll bring out that YA I started years ago, and attempt Nano with it again.  Or maybe just be content with adding a paragraph a week. That may be more like it.

But this year I am doing PiBoIdMo!  PiBoIdMo is Picture Book Idea Month. This is the fifth year for PiBoIdMo. That's obviously why I haven't heard of it before.  I haven't really written in over 4 years or more.  How I didn't know about it the first year, I'm not sure.  But I am glad to know it now.

Immediately, upon finding out about PiBoIdMo, I got very excited, registered, and pulled out my( still blank) Ideas and Images journal I obtained from a SCBWI conference many years ago. It was perfect for the newly inspired me!  And I wrote in the numbers 1-30 over two of its pages......  So the idea is that through the course of the month, which is November which has 30 days, the picture book writer comes up with at least 30 different ideas for a picture book (I already have 5 listed besides the one I've actually spent a little bit of time starting this past week).  In addition, Tara Lazar (founder of PiBoIdMo) will be putting up daily blog posts by picture book authors, illustrators, editors and other professionals from the kidlit world!  I am so inspired by this.  It was really perfect timing.

So I have opened the cupboard in my sitting room that has been closed since the cupboards were built.  Inside, I found very dusty folders and notebooks I've not looked at in quite sometime.  It was really sort of humorous (and maybe a little sad) as I glanced through folders with started manuscript titles not remembering half of them!  I mean, sure memories came back after reading through a few lines, but I honestly hadn't remembered starting half of them!  So it will be interesting, I'm sure, taking more time to sort through and read through them all again.  I'm sure, this many years later, I will have a totally different perspective on many of them if not all of them!

I also found my notes from SCBWI conferences and other related sources.  Right now, sitting at the top of the pile on my desk, a notebook lies open displaying the notes from the Katherine Patterson talk.  Here are some of the things I wrote that Katherine said:  "I can never be Jane Austin or Tolstoy, but neither can they be me." (So true!) "I am the only person that can tell my stories." (Yep!) "We must bring out what we fear and what we care mostly about." (I must remember this).  Katherine ended her talk that day by exclaiming, "Go Home and Dare!"

So I'm daring.  I'm not sure what will become of all this but I am grateful to you, my followers, for making me feel that maybe, by following me or reading this blog from time to time, that you must think I have something to say, something worth reading.  I appreciate that.  I don't give myself enough credit, or so I'm told.  You help me do that.  So thank you, dear reader, for giving me encouragement to go out and dare!  And now it's time to do a little more looking into those past manuscripts and notes... maybe a new idea for a picture book will emerge and I can add more to my list!  They come up in the most unusual places....like sitting and watching a little old man filling his car up with gas at Sam's Club 😉