Off to Asheville, North Carolina this morning. Home of the largest private house in America, Biltmore Estate, the Grove Park Inn with a world class spa, UNC Asheville, the only liberal arts college in the UNC system, and some of the funkiest stores downtown as well as a vibe that is straight out of 1960 Northern California :-).
But. I will be doing none of those things this weekend. I will be sitting in a windowless, over air-conditioned room, with 50 other writers, listening to Executive Editor Cheryl Klein attempt to push into my brain Plot! The first definition of plot is a plan made in secret by a group of people to do something illegal or harmful which I kind of, sort of like, because I’m writing a mystery. The second definition is more apt, the main events of a play, novel, movie, or similar work, devised and presented by the writer as an interrelated sequence for the work we will be doing in this self imposed eight hour exile from the real world.
Ms. Klein’s book, Second Sight , An Editor Talks On Writing, Revising & Publishing Books For Children and Young Adults, is a primer for those who want to write well for children. And. I think that’s a huge distinction. For children. I know when I returned to children’s books with my own girls, I was enchanted by the way the story was told. In adult books, we allow authors to use short cuts; a brand name for a car to denote wealth or near poverty, a high profile school to infer privilege, or even a famous name to identify a style or attitude. No can do with kids. They’re definitely not as tolerant as children. Although I do believe the most popular of adult books are basically written to an eighth grade level. And sometimes that’s demeaning…to an eighth grader!
So today I finalize my book map. I make sure my spelling is correct and that I’m on top of the material request, although, in truth, I almost feel like I’m drowning in a sea of possibilities and my ears will be too clogged to listen. So. Probably it’s for the best that I am in a totally sterile environment. And, I’m guessing, I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed!