Sunday, May 2, 2010

Where the Waving Wheat

After a whirlwind weekend at home, I'm back in Edmond, Oklahoma, to do a few more days of school visits, returning home later this week to a huge stack of grading and the fun of commencement at CU.

It's strange to give the same talk four times a day for so many days in a row, over and over and over again. And at the end, I always get some of the exact same questions:

"How many books have you wrote?"
Answer: "I have published 42 books, but I have a whole carton in my garage filled with books that I wrote that never were good enough to be published."

"What is your favorite book that you wrote?"
Answer: "That is like asking a mom, what is your favorite kid that you had? Each book has a huge chunk of my heart in it."

"How old are you?"
Answer: "I was born on August 21, 1954. You do the subtraction!"
(This triggers several minutes of students trying to do the math in their heads and calling out, "70!" "65!" and other preposterous guesses.)

Or my least favorite question (which I haven't had once yet on this trip):
"Do you know --" (Fill in the blank with the name of the author they REALLY wanted to hear.)
Answer: "No." (Even if the real answer is yes! - some lines of inquiry are better nipped in the bud.)

But sometimes I get a fresh question I've never heard before, or a penetrating question about craft:
"What do you do when you're stuck in the middle of a book?"
Answer: "Just keep writing, knowing that it's fine and expected to throw much of what you write away."
"How do you know when you're done?"
Answer: "I have my friends read my drafts and let them tell me."

One third grader once asked me, "Which review media do you find most helpful, Booklist, Kirkus, or School Library Journal?"
(Of course, it turned out that his mother was a librarian AND that he was amazingly gifted, but still!)

I'll have to see what I'm asked tomorrow.

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