I've been trying my hand at writing picture books and took a writing workshop with Mary Quattlebaum at The Writer's Center in Bethesda, Maryland. I learned a lot of new things, put words to things I might have known a little bit about and started to think about my projects with fresh eyes. That is all to say that I'm really glad that I took that class. I have a long and exciting to-do list with books to read, pieces to edit and more ideas to put into writing.
Mary is a wonderful teacher and writer. She was generous in presenting what she knows and answering questions, as well as offering feedback on our manuscripts. I encourage you to check out her books here on her website. My current favorite of hers is The Hungry Ghost of Rue Orleans.
There is a lot of overlap between the genres (strong verbs! strong beginning! strong... everything!) But there is always more to learn and, perhaps most importantly, practice, practice and practice some more. I particularly liked what Mary said about revision, "It isn't about perfection, it is about intention."
And yes, dear students of mine, I felt all the nerves that you say that you feel before workshopping. It takes courage and a belief in the work to share it with strangers for feedback. Mary and my fellow students were just as gently challenging to our manuscripts as I hope we are to yours in my classes.
This is all to say that I while I am busy teaching writing, I am also busy continuing to not only practice writing, but also try new genres.
Memoir students, look out for my comparisons between memoir and picture books. In fact, tonight's homework is to read a picture book to a child and notice the narrative arc.
You know what? Forget it. Tonight's homework is just to read and enjoy. If someone is nearby, even better if you can read aloud together.