I’m still struggling to meet my deadline. This week I was reading the March/April issue of Horn Book Magazine. (Bedtime reading, not computer time, and yes, I know I’m behind. BTW, Horn Book is the classic magazine of children’s literature—highly recommended to anyone thinking of writing for children or young adults.) This issue honors Katherine Paterson , a missionary kid from China who has written more than 25 books (many of them award winners.) She is also the newly appointed National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. In a short essay (p.36) Linda Sue Park (herself a Newbery Medal winner) talks about the impact that Katherine Paterson has had on her life. Park was only thinking she might like to try writing when she found Paterson’s book of essays The Spying Heart. In the essay “Do I Dare Disturb the Universe?” she came upon the author’s technique of writing two pages a day.
Two pages a day? Park thought. I can do that, and Seesaw Girl, about a 12-year-old Korean girl who wants to go beyond the limitations of her 17th-century society, was the result.
A couple weeks ago I broke out in a rash worrying that I would never get this sequel to Glastonbury Tor right. With a deadline looming ahead of me, I sat paralyzed in front of my computer. Two pages a day? “Real writers” write thousands of words each day, don’t they? Ten pages minimum. More if they’re feeling inspired. How can I call myself a writer blah, blah, blah…
Two pages a day.
I had an idea that a blood feud (very common in my 16th century Wales setting) would not only add excitement, but could be the thread that ties the events of my story together. I tried inserting a death to get things rolling in my first scene where things got physical. It didn’t work. How can someone getting killed not work in a scene with swords slashing and bows twanging?
“Try starting it somewhere else,” someone in my critique group said. (Have I ever mentioned how important critique groups are to a writer?)
So we get through the fight with no serious injuries and BAM! the death happens the next morning. It works. It gives more depth to my characters and starts the feud that will be significant in the ending.
The feud does indeed help me tie together events that before seemed random. I’m not done yet. (Two more weeks until the deadline.) I keep pushing ahead in increments, but if feels so slow.
Two pages a day.
I can do that.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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