A Chorus of Cheers


This past week felt big. The American Library Association Youth Media Awards were presented in Seattle on Monday, recognizing some fantastic works in the children’s literature community. Caldecott, Newbery, Printz, Morris, Coretta Scott King and more… So much excellence. My to-be-read pile just grew.

Seeing the eruption of cheers on Twitter and in the blogosphere was quite exciting. Sadly, I wasn’t able to watch the live webcast, but I can only imagine the energy in the room at the actual awards ceremony. A recap of the awards given can be found here.


Now closer to home, this past Saturday I presented my work for the MFA program at Simmons College. I was joined by my writing peers and I got to hear them speak of their mentorship experiences and read from their work, too. I also had the pleasure of having my family in the audience, which was so nice.

What a great afternoon. What a privilege to study with some really talented people, all striving for the very best work they can create. Hearing their stories and approach to their work is inspiring. Thinking about how far we’ve all come makes me want to cheer.

My friend Briana Woods-Conklin (@brianawc) wrote a blog post about it, which you can read here. I can’t say it much better than that.




The Importance of Dissatisfaction (Part Two)

Frog and ToadI must say, it felt strange to be writing about dissatisfaction in my last post right before Thanksgiving, but alas. Inspiration strikes at inconvenient times!

For part two, it was important for me to continue with the idea of dissatisfaction as a means of looking forward. Recently, the talented author/illustrator Jon Klassen posted an interview he found with Arnold Lobel, author and illustrator of the classic Frog and Toad books. In the interview, Lobel discussed his work and ended with what I find to be a fascinating thought.

You know, I’ve been doing this for twenty years, and I’m continually dissatisfied. I make a religion of being dissatisfied. I don’t think there is a point in doing a book and saying, “Isn’t that wonderful?” Then you don’t learn. When people ask what’s the best book you ever did, there’s no point in saying, “Oh, that was four years ago.” That means everything since was worse, right? So I say, it’s the next book. Then, you know, even though I’ve done the best book I think I can do, I know the book I’m going to do might be even better. It’s all delusion, but it does keep one trying one’s best.

Now, Lobel does seem to be channeling some of his inner, curmudgeonly Toad, but he makes some good points too. Primarily this: always look forward. Reflect on the work you’ve done, then push yourself to do better.

I just ended a mentorship for my MFA program for a project that I love… and it’s time to move on to the next one. Admittedly, there’s some trepidation in that the first project is not complete. I have to shift gears and get myself ready to pour into this new work and give it my very best. It’s hard, but I know that the more I write and revise, the more I tackle, the better I will become. I must keep pushing, learning, and looking forward.