24 February 2012

Stepping Outside the Comfort Zone

I've really been enjoying the weekly conference challenges on the SCBWI MD/DE/WV "As the Eraser Burns" website:

You read my 30-minute-terrible-picture-book in response to the first weekly challenge, and I posted my pitch for the second week's challenge as a comment on the "As The Eraser Burns" blog.

This week, I'm playing catch-up and tackling weeks three and four at once:

Challenge #3 was to write a poem.  I used to love writing poetry (I even won a couple of awards and got 2 poems accepted into an anthology when I was in high school), but I put that away when I graduated.  For some reason, I told myself that grown-ups don't express themselves through poetry... or maybe I just thought my poetry was too juvenile.

Either way, I've been itching to pick up my poetry notebook again in recent months.  The main character in my current novel is a poet, though she's too shy to share her writing with anyone.  Of course, stepping into her shoes on a daily basis as I write made me want to be a poet again.  I wanted to give Alaina's poems a chance to be heard.  So I was excited to see this challenge. 

I don't know if it's what they expected when they issued the challenge, but I stepped into Alaina's shoes and wrote a poem.

The world outside my window
is dull and brown.

A single sparrow flutters
on a bare branch.

Then, the fog rolls in and earth
is a new place.

I open my door and step
out into Heaven.

That was fun!  I've missed writing poetry, and since I still have trouble expressing my poetic side in my own grown-up voice, I think I may step into Alaina's skin again in the future to write another verse or two...

Challenge #4 (this week's challenge) was much more scary.  The challenge was for writers to illustrate and illustrators to write.  I imagine that it wasn't as challenging for the illustrators, because most artists I know are inherent storytellers, but for me, this was a little beyond terrifying.  I always say that I write because I have an artistic mind, but not a single artistic bone in my hands.  But I promised myself I'd fulfill every challenge, so illustrate I must.  The challenge: draw a portrait of your main character.

Before I could take up my story pencil and apply it to drawing paper instead of my comfortable spiral notebook, I made my artist husband promise that he would draw a real picture of Alaina that I can post on the blog - so people will know what she's supposed to look like.  (He said he will.  That picture should be coming soon - I hope!) 

My picture turned out better than I thought it would, so I'm excited.  Maybe I do have one artistic bone in my hand after all :)
This terrifying challenge went so well (it only took me about 2 hours to draw that picture!).... I'm thinking I might be able to face some other fears as well.  Perhaps I'll even finish writing that dreaded synopsis I've been putting off...

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