Monday Musings with Rachelle
Fellow author, Angela Morrison, shared this thought with me years ago and I wanted to share it with you.
I heard Wendy Lamb, Ann Cannon’s editor for Charlotte’s Rose, speak at a conference where she said, “I keep finding books that deal with teenagers and faith” and would like to see more. This was the first time I thought it was possible for me to “write what I know” and have an audience outside my religious community.
When I was trying to do this with TAKEN BY STORM and making an awful mess of it, I turned to Katherine Paterson’s work–artistic and critical–for advice. Katherine has always been public about her faith and is not shy about discussing how it impacts her work. I learned so much from her, and now that she’s the U.S. Ambassador of Children’s Literature, I’m excited to share a taste of her wisdom with you.
In an article for U.S. Catholic, April 2001, entitled, “The Spiritual Reading Life of Children,” Katherine Paterson said,
“If we set out to teach a moral or a spiritual truth, we are writing propaganda, not a story. There is nothing wrong with good propaganda . . . but we shouldn’t confuse this effort with fiction, even if we try to cloak it in story form. We know ahead of time what the answers are, and we write to persuade the reader.”
This advice was key for me. I learned to eradicate statements like, “I’m writing this book for . . . ” or “The theme of my book is . . . ” and replace them with story questions, “What if . . . ,” “What would happen next . . . ,” and “Then, what would she do?”
Paterson also writes the most beautiful, inspiring, encouragement. Here’s a taste. You can find more of the wisdom I gleaned from her on my liv2writ blog at www.angela-morrison.com. This quote is from, “The Journey Inward,” The Writer, August 1995.
“Are you afraid that deep down inside you are really shallow? That when you take that dark voyage deep within yourself, you will find no treasure to share? Trust me. There is. Don’t let your fear stop you. . . . Like a child, pour out what is inside you, not listening to anything but the stream of life within you.”
Paterson’s book, The Invisible Child: on Reading and Writing Books for Children is also an incredible resource for any writer.
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