Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Yellow Paperclip Meets Alice and Joy

I spent a day in a room full of writers, aspiring writers, fellow lovers of children's books, publishers, teachers, psychologists, psychiatrists, moms, and new friends. It was the day of the writing workshop sponsored by The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators with globally-published author Alice McLerran.

I saw her as I entered; she was wearing a purple dress (and I was in a purple shirt!)... and I liked her already! Alice shared her stories with us as a writer, daughter and mother; a number of us also shared our stories during the group critique sessions. Now that was nerve-wracking! Whew! (That experience deserves its own blogpost. Abangan...) Until I can find the time to write lengthily on the writing workshop, I'll share some of the notes I scribbled as Alice talked about her life as a writer and shared some tips on the writing process (with additional and pahabol thought bubbles of mine in purple!).

Publishing is anytime you let go of a piece of writing. Publishing your work matters. The fun in writing is sharing it with others. (It took me a while to share my writing with others. It was great to know that other people enjoyed what I write... so it wasn't just Mom. Hee-hee.)

You're the same writer even after a "Whopeeee! I'm published!" moment. Things don't change drastically. (Exactly! I was suprised when I sat down next to Michele of CCP and she said with a laugh, "How intimidating! Of course someone with a book had to sit next to me!" Me, intimidating?! Not at all. It was nice to meet you, Michele!)

With picture books, you have to trust your illustrator to tell the other half of your story. And illustrators must know how to draw imagination. (And I love it how May Ann saw the world of my Yellow Paperclip so much better than I even imagined it myself!)

We write about what we know and care about. You have to care enough about your story. And care enough to share it with others. (Who would've thought others would find a paperclip just as fascinating?)

An idea is not the story. You still have to develop the story with a beginning, a middle and an end. Yes, it's hard work. (That a-ha moment still needs a lot of work, tears, patience and determination. "Dreams mean work," Paulo Coelho said. I believe him 100%.)

The most simple of plants (and stories!) draw their strength from a complex root system. (If only you knew the entire root system of the Yellow Paperclip...)

There's no one set of pictures for a story. (Alice's book The Mountain that Loved a Bird has been published in several countries, including Russia, Pakistan, China and the Philippines - in the native language and with locally-inspired illustrations. Amazing!)

Rewriting should be the fun and most pleasurable part of writing. (This should be my mantra... Really.)

Ideas come and go. Write them down as soon as possible. (Never leave home without that trusty notebook and pen!)

Creativity is not romantic. A lot of it happens in strange ways. But a lot of it is craft. It's practice. (Creativity is also a way of life. It's about being curious and silly and child-like.)

Trust your subconscious. (I should. I will.)

I bought a copy of The Mountain that Loved a Bird, a very moving story with beautiful new illustrations by Beaulah. I also gave Alice a copy of The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots and she loved it! She said it wasn't lip service but she really enjoyed the story. I'm so happy! I hope we keep in touch.

Oh... and if you're wondering who Joy is, you'll have to read The Mountain that Loved a Bird! Send an email to or visit their site to get copies.

PS. I can't believe I didn't get to have my photo taken with Alice! Sayang. And it would have been so cool for this blogpost (especially since we were both in purple!). Beaulah or Nikki, I hope you can share some photos with me. Maraming salamat!


jun said...

"(Never leave home without that trusty notebook and pen!)" - Also, ABAB - always bring a book! And a camera =)

CloudWoman said...

I'll remember that! ;) Especially handy when waiting in long lines (a book) or when spotting paperclips along the sidewalk (a camera)!