Friday, January 18, 2013

When an idea knocks...

 It's January again and time for the winter residency of the Hamline MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. I always look forward to this winter "writers' camp," where we talk about writing from breakfast until dinner--and after, with lectures, workshops, readings, and old fashioned conversation.

This winter I had the good fortune to be in a conversation with Jane Resh Thomas, Marsha Qualey, and Liza Ketchum about the reading and writing we'd been doing, what had inspired, or excited us, in the writing of others, what we were working on at our own desks. During that morning as we drank our coffee, and Jane's dog, Gilly, listened in (possibly hoping to glean ideas for a book he's working on. How could Jane Resh Thomas's dog not be a writer?) Jane said two things that I want to share:

*When an idea knocks you'd better answer the door.

*What is writing if not being naked on the page?

And that reminded me of Jane's wonderful posts on The Story Teller's Inkpot. Check this one out. It's like being in the same room and listening to Jane talk about point of view and psychic  distance--except that you have to imagine Gilly.


  1. Just enjoyed a long talk with Jyoti about this last week. Her advice mirrors Jane's: "Write it, you got to write it. Mell? Write it." But, as always, I don't trust ideas unless they pester me. We all have ideas. Heck, there are too many books on the shelves as it is (that shouldn't be) because their writers experienced an idea, and too often those books lack soul. They're romps... So, as I told Jyoti, my litmus test is this: I'll let the idea simmer and, in the interim, work on XYZ. If the idea returns, than you better believe I'll listen because at that point the idea has wedged itself into a deeper place, simmering, stewing, until my only option is to write it.

    LOVE that you gals chat and that Gilly is listening. Much love to y'all! :)


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  3. Hi Mell--
    Sounds like you are saying that an idea has to knock on your door for some time. Why not be sure that it's really insistent? And while it's knocking the idea is actually becoming more formed (in some part of your brain).

    We are thinking of you--and Jyoti--and wishing you were with us.

    And be sure that Gilly was taking it all down. No question.

  4. Miss y'all so much! Wish I was there! What's new with you?

    LOVE the res. convo./hashtag on Twitter! Not as good as the real thing, of course, but it'll do. Safe travels home tomorrow! Congrats to the Hamline MFAC grads!

    Any book recs. that you wouldn't mind passing along? I'm now hooked on Alice Munro's short stories thanks to Marsha Q.

    Write on,


  5. We miss you too. And it was a great residency. We are all feeling that "I'm exhausted but does it really have to be over feeling." Grads were great, organized a flash mob at the end of the dinner tonight.
    Book recommends to come.

  6. LOL! A flashmob? Love it! Ahh, the post-res. conundrum--the best kind of exhaustion, though.

    Can't wait for the recs. Thanks so much, Jackie!