My Mission Statement

I write to serve, to unite, to educate. I write to share literature and flesh out ideas that may be of interest to others. I write to document an emotion, experience, or a blip in time. My mission is to write in such a way that the reader is reminded that we can find humor in all situations. It's one of the great blessings of life.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Chautauqua Day 3

Wow! Day 3 was actually yesterday, but I'm going to do a separate post for it and try to catch up! Yesterday, Day 3, was actually the first 'real' day. I began with breakfast at 7:30 and continued full throttle until late last night. I hope I'll be able to blog as I go this week for you, but I might have to catch up when I get home. Is anyone reading? I'll try harder if I think someone is following all this!

First of all, a few things I love about Chautauqua:
1. The food. Lots of it, variety, and always dessert.
2. I'm in room 17, right beside room 99. Go figure.
3. Rooms still have real keys.
4. There's SO MUCH going on. Not just the highlights conference.
5. Weather is crisp and cool, lake is stunning.

Yesterday began with a brilliant keynote by Peter Jacobi. It was truly amazing. He spoke on the philosophy of writing. He took Descartes "I think, therefore I am," and transformed it to "I write, therefore I am." He read a staggering number of author quotes on writing like Jessamyn West's "I love being a writer, but I can't stand the paperwork." "We write to taste life twice in the moment and in retrospection." Anne Tyler, I think? Then he touched on the roles of a writer: writer as comforter, educator, enricher, friend, companion, magician, preacher, visionary, and as a link.

Then he commanded us to take on the Writer's Manifesto. (note the acronym to follow spells MANIFESTO)
As a writer, be Memorable, Authentic, New, Imaginative, Factual, Enthusiastic, Singular, Transportant, and Ordered.

He read from dozens of books and essays to press these points home. An amazing, amazing way to begin the first hour or so of the day.

Then I met with my mentor to look at some of my work, which went well. Susan Beckhorn Williams, author of WILD RIDER (If you haven't read it, you must). She was kind and very helpful.

After lunch, Suzanne Bloom spoke on The Puzzle of Plot. Most of her talk involved slides from her picture books (she's an amazing illustrator and has written some,too)which is hard to translate to you, but she emphasized the definition of plot: Journey from the problem to the solution. She said all good ideas start with a spark of truth and then you must write from the heart.

Then, my mentor, spoke on characterization. I'll just give a few bullet point notes.
-Kids like to read about kids their own age or slightly older.
-The main character HAS to change, preferably for the better.
-Kid HAS to be the hero.
-Every character must have full stories even if the reader never sees them.
-Give every character more than one side, flaws in the good guy, endearing quality in the bad guy.
-Don't waste a word in PB text.
-Show character traits; don't tell.
-KNOW protag's main desire from the first word.

Lastly, Mary Casanova spoke on point of view. It was a wonderful presentation with a cool writing exercise, but hard to share here. She just went over trying the different points of view, strengths and weaknesses of each. A GREAT presentation with a long hand-out that maybe I'll scan for you when I get home.

Dinner was at the golf club across the street from Chautauqua. We had a great time at dinner talking shop, then such talk continued way into the evening back in Chautauqua. The evenings are so beautiful here. How can you not sit outside on a rocking chair and talk about delicious things like children's literature?

Anyway, that was day 1. It's fabulous. Anyone thinking of coming MUST, but I will say that the timing is good for me because I'm ready to really get serious about my writing. A year or two ago would have been too soon for me because I wouldn't have been able to implement much of it right away. With Jon starting kindergarten, the timing is just right.

Thanks, everyone, who's checking my post. I love you all. My phone is spotty here, so know I'm safe and having a great time. Love, djk


Sara said...

I'm so happy you're loving it!

I just got back from my week-long retreat at Highlights' other venue, their cabins in Honesdale. Absolutely wonderful. A retreat in every way. But I thought of you arriving a few hours north as I was heading south...

Dorothy said...

Durn tootin I'm reading your blog. Was disappointed yesterday, but not surprised that you didn't have time for frivolities like writing home. Thank you for sharing as you go and it's still fresh in your mind, but the most important thing is to squeeze every drop of juice out of that delicious Chataugua peach and not fret if you can't always make a report. We'll wait. Hope you took warm clothes. Just like I remembered it was. Well, enjoy, it's hot and humid here.

Diane said...

I'm here too Donna and hanging on every word.

Jean Matthew Hall said...

Thanks for the recap. Very interesting.


Isabel by Donna Jones Koppelman

Isabel by Donna Jones Koppelman

Major Bear at the Grove Park Inn by Donna Jones Koppelman

Major Bear at the Grove Park Inn by Donna Jones Koppelman