I haven’t been around as much as I’d like to be, and it’s not for lack of ideas. In fact, I routinely think of things I could blog about on my lunch break or when I get home. Just in the last week I’ve considered blogging about:
1. Orange soda. Or, as we call it in the hinterlands of the American midwest, “orange pop.” I love it. It’s like a little piece of being ten years old that I’ve nurtured and kept safe from maturation. I thought about blogging about the different brands and fell short with the realization that they are all pretty much exactly the same. Except for Stewart’s Oranges & Cream, which leaves the field so far back it’s just sad. Though when given a hot day and a Sunkist or an Orange Crush, I’ll take either gladly.
2. Albatross stories. I love ’em. You know, those tales where someone tells you an extreme summary of an incidence — man walks into a restaurant, eats an albatross sandwich, takes out a gun and blows his brains out — and the audience has to ask questions to figure out what led up to it. Lots of suicide in those stories. Lots of suicide and death. The answer to that one is, he was a goldfish! Unless I’ve mixed it up with a different one.
3. Parenting. Byron is now one. One! What a year it’s been. I thought I’d write more about it but I was too busy taking electrical cords out of baby’s mouth and replacing it with minced rutabaga.
4. Bullying. The bullying book is coming out and I could do more to talk about that book, which I can’t wait to get my own copy of. I really wish I’d done more with my own story, but I’ve gotten a good response to it. Apparently it’s one of the few in the book where an author owns up to participating in bullying, besides being relentlessly victimized by bullies, so I’m glad it’s included and I’m glad it stands out. It’s something I want to tease out in a future story, how liquid the whole thing is, how victims become bullies and flop back again. But James Preller already nailed that one in Bystander.
5. Epistemology. It’s a theme of Tanglewood Terror, and something I like about it. I didn’t set out to have a lesson in it, but there are meta-lessons, about science and history, that come back to that big word. But I’m less able to articulate it in non story form.
6. Some recent books I’ve read. Particularly The Mostly True Story of Jack by Kelly Barnhill and Brooklyn, Burning by Steve Brezenoff, my talented writing group partners and friends, which are both terrific books and getting healthy buzz, but writing a thoughtful review takes time and other people are doing it better for both books. In fact, Kelly wrote pretty much the perfect review of Steve’s book. While I’d read and enjoyed Steve’s book, it was an insight for me — I hadn’t thought, self-centered oaf that I am, that the book wasn’t just about transgender kids, but for them. That’s why I’m grateful for wise pals like Kelly. Her debut novel is fantastic. Here’s my inadequate review.
7. My online class. There is exactly one seat open. I can’t wait to get started. What’s been interesting about it is how little I refer to my own work and experience. I draw from books better than my own, particularly the ones I grew up reading. When I re-read something by Louise Fitzhugh or Betsy Byars looking for lessons about writing, I’m overwhelmed. Every sentence is a lesson. The words glide by but when I’m paying more attention I realize the concision, the care that they put into their works, the fullness of their characters, the immediacy of these “quiet” stories that still fare well against the high-concept books we’re cranking out now. You may never take a better class on how to write middle grade fiction thirty years ago.😉