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June 24, 2012 / Angela Sylvia

MFA Semester 4 – Day 3

First thing today was a seminar for every Writing for Young People student on writing picture books from Pat Collins. After the picture book IS I took two semesters ago, picture books have become a medium I really want to pursue, so this was particularly interesting to me. But, though most people in this genre don’t write picture books, everyone got really involved. It was great to see Pat’s thumbnails and book dummies, and to hear the stories of how you simply CAN NOT choose your artist, and how that can work out both for good and for bad. Many of the books for this seminar had been suggested to me by Beth Glass in my IS, but I never got all of them. After hearing Pat’s strong recommendations for Picture This! and Writing Picture Books, though, I think I’ll have to go grab those.

Directly after this was the Fraud Police Seminar from William Lychack. This seminar focused on our self-doubt and the elements of our life, both exterior and interior, that try to prevent us from getting our writing done. It sounded like a potentially horrifying and depressing seminar, but it was actually really amazing. Self doubt never goes away, distractions surround us like wolves, and we will never get rid of the voices (both real and imagined) that belittle our work and tell us that we’re not good enough, we’re too selfish, too presumptuous, everyone is better than us anyway… We have to keep chugging, keep writing. We work hard to say what we have to, because it is worth saying.

After lunch was the first round of workshops with Jacqueline Davies’ students. As usual there was some really great work here, and I was glad to finally be in a large group where I was able to see a picture book / early reader manuscript. I wish there were more picture book writers in this genre (I realize I contribute to the stack of novels) because I think that would have helped me figure out how to do one for myself sooner. And of course the other stories were great to read — I love everyone in my genre so much, they are all so good. I hope my comments are as helpful to them as I thought they were when I wrote them down.

I’ve begun to notice, I’ve had a much easier time getting past my shyness and participating than I have in the past, and that has already reaped the benefits of potential work, less awkward conversations with faculty, and, I believe, new friends. May the awkward shyness continue to seep away…

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