Learning Never Stops

My brother teases me that I’m a perpetual student. I never seem to quit going to school. It’s true. I have a MFA, MA, and soon an endorsement in Library Media to prove that this statement is true. But I think the more I learn the more I realize I have so much left to learn.

At the beginning of 2014, I made a promise to myself that every month I’d be busy learning something, reading something, and writing something.

Some of the things that have impacted me the most in 2014 include the following:

Making Picture Book Magic with Susanna Leonard Hill

I’ve been in several graduate picture book writing classes, so I wasn’t sure if I would learn anything new, but I did. Not so much new things about picture books, but a new process. Susanna broke down the process in a way I’d never done before.  And sometimes, when you approach things in a new way, it helps you write things in a whole new way.

I’d recommend this to newbies and advanced pre-published picture book writers. In fact, I’ve been recommending picture book writer friends to give this class to themselves as a gift. It makes a great birthday present or Christmas present for a writer. It’s far cheaper  than graduate school and it comes right to your inbox. Even better.

I was able to write a picture book in this class that has a lot of promise.

Lyrical Language Lab with Renee LaTulippe 

I’ve never really written picture books in rhyme. I do enjoy writing poetry, but I was struggling with really understanding the ins and outs of rhyme. This online class was a gift. I learned a LOT about poetry and Renee is a girl after my own heart. She made these reference charts that made so much sense to my brain. Plus her feedback was so fabulous and detailed. Lyrical writing is a strength of my prose, but this helped me make it even better.

If you want to challenge yourself to dip your toes into the world of rhyme, or if you just want to use language more effectively,  then go for this class.

I was able to write a picture book in this class that is totally in rhyme. I also composed several poems as exercises. The best part? I now have the tools to continue this on my own.

WOW Retreat

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to go to the WOW retreat—time wise, money wise, kid-care wise. But somehow, it all came together, like it was supposed to happen. Why was I glad I went? 1) I love small conferences where you actually get to know the attendees and make connections with them 2) I got to chat with agents and editors casually and formally 3) I learned a ton at this conference. Each session was packed full of good information, 4) I got my agent as a result of this conference—need I say more?

Books that Impacted Me

essentialism

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less 

by Greg McKeown

I’ve been too busy. Busier than I’m comfortable with. I think some of it has paid off but I see a need to give myself some more margin in my life and start pursuing where I really want to be in a few years. This book makes it clear that some of the most successful people in life are not the people who say yes to everything. They are the people who cut their lives down to the most important things. I listened to this on audiobook on one of my many solo trips this summer. It’s not just for writers. In fact, it’s probably intended for those in business, but it has great implications for writers. This is a book I will return to again and again because I’ll need to be reminded of what I need to keep in my life and what I need to shed.

wild things

Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature

by Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, and Peter Sieruta

I have an MA and MFA in children’s literature, and one of the books I wished I’d had during those years was the new book by blogger-extraordinaires, Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, and the late Peter Sieruta. I had to take History and Criticism during graduate school, but this book is like history and crit with a bit of scandal mixed in. It’s fun, it’s serious, and these authors know their stuff. If you are a kidlit aficionado, then you need to get this book.

What about You?

What classes or books have impacted you recently? Maybe I will add them to my learning for 2015.

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Comments

  1. Marcie – I feel like your shadow. 🙂 I also took Susanna’s and Renee’s class this year, as well as Kristen’s. I’m registered for next year’s WOW retreat and can hardly wait. I, too, decided to dedicate 2014 to really taking a leap of faith into the world of writing children’s books – and it’s been nothing but bliss. 🙂 And now I see I’ve followed you to Julie’s class as well. See you during recess. 🙂