All posts for the month March, 2013

Moving Forward and Reading Like a Writer

Published March 10, 2013 by Elsa Pla

The Author

What I’ve been up to lately:

1- I’ve been revising/editing a collection of 35 poems that I plan to publish as an e-book. The final copy is almost ready — I just need to figure out the order of the poems. It will be my second electronic publication.

2- I’m preparing two manuscripts — a picture book and a story book — to submit to publishers.

3- I’ve been creating new products for my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

4- I’m reading a fabulous book titled Reading Like A Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them by Francine Prose. I strongly recommend it (more on this below).

5- I’ve been working at different schools, guest teaching and helping with state assessments.

6- I’ve been spending time on Pinterest, adding pins to my boards, creating new ones, and getting inspiration and ideas for my work. (I love Pinterest.)

7- I continue to blog (I have three blogs in addition to “The Write Town”: “The Write Kitchen,” weekly writing lessons for middle school students; “The Reading Café,” monthly juvenile and YA book recommendations; and “A Season of Butterflies,” personal reflections on living a simple, frugal, spiritual life.), but I’m keeping my posts simple — I want blogging to enhance my writing life, not hinder it.

8- I slipped and fell on a patch of ice and twisted my left leg. I’m sitting a lot and using a cane to walk. 😦

The point is that — slowly, but surely — I’m moving forward with my writing, searching for different publication venues, studying the craft, feeding the muse, doing actual writing, and remaining focused and motivated. Yay.

An excerpt from Reading Like a Writer:

” In the ongoing process of becoming a writer, I read and reread the authors I most loved. I read for pleasure, first, but also more analytically, conscious of style, of diction, of how sentences were formed and information was being conveyed, how the writer was structuring a plot, creating characters, employing detail and dialogue. And as I wrote, I discovered that writing, like reading, was done one word at a time, one punctuation mark at a time. It required what a friend calls “putting every word on trial for its life”: changing an adjective, cutting a phrase, removing a comma, and putting the comma back in.

” I read closely, word by word, sentence by sentence, pondering each deceptively minor decision the writer had made. And though it’s impossible to recall every source of inspiration and instruction, I can remember the novels and stories that seemed to me revelations: wells of beauty and pleasure that were also textbooks, private lessons in the art of fiction.” (from Chapter One: “Close Reading”)

Yes. I believe close study and imitation are the best ways to learn any form of art. And as we recognize, analyze, and imitate the beautiful, our own style begins to develop.

So here’s my ongoing writing exercise: to identify, study, and emulate the authors I admire. I’m creating a board on Pinterest titled “My Mentors” to motivate me in this endeavor.