Sunday, October 12, 2008
I've been hopping around in Aaron Copland's enlightening book, What to Listen for in Music, and I'd like to draw some parallels between musical composition and kidlit composition.
Here's an important note about finding your own voice, even when the voices of the masters hold you under their spell:
"My love of the music of Chopin and Mozart is as strong as that of the next fellow, but it does me little good when I sit down to write my own, because their world is not mine and their musical language [is] not mine."
On the question of whether one needs to be inspired in order to write:
"The composer, therefore, confronted with the question of inspiration, does not say to himself: 'Do I feel inspired?' He says to himself: 'Do I feel like composing today?' And if he feels like composing, he does."
On the concept of innovative writing:
"...musical speech-- if it is truly vital-- is certain to include an experimental and controversial side. And why not? Why is it that the typical music lover of our day is seemingly so reluctant to consider a musical composition as, possibly, a challenging experience?"
And finally, just for fun, this thought (yes, Musicland has its version of James Joyce):
"The dodecaphonic school of Schoenberg is the hardest nut to crack, even for musicians."
So there you have it, from a kindred kidlit spirit, the words of Aaron Copland. He's really not so far from us if you think about it. He did write that wonderfully rhythmic ballet, Billy the Kid; and that was all about a kid, right?
Thursday, October 9, 2008
The image got me thinking about those all too-tempting rules like "stay off the grass", "no swimming," and "no skateboarding" (well, for you skaters, anyway).
As writers, these types of rules can make some of us want to swim in the grass on our skateboards. There's no way we can resist what seems to us like a pleading invitation. Break the rules, break new ground, chart new territory!
What are some of these rules for you?
Here's some that come to mind (from a picture book perspective):
1. Don't write in first-person.
2. Whatever you do, don't write in first-person, present tense.
3. Don't write a wordless picture book.
4. Don't write a story that occurs over multiple days.
5. Don't write in rhyme.
6. Don't write a story with talking animals.
7. Don't write a concept book, even if it has a beginning, middle, and end.
8. Don't write a story in 25 words or less.
9. Don't write a story in which every word begins with the letter "Q."
10. Don't, don't, don't!!!!
Here's a final word to those ruled by rules: I'd rather do, do than be a dodo.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
The 7th Annual West Hollywood Book Fair had me with this poster. I love it! At first, I thought the blue fellow was a walrus, goo goo g'joob. I know, I know. But, Candy, where are the tusks? Okay, so maybe I wanted to see a walrus. But I'll settle for the super-cute blue pug, too.
Unfortunately, I lost all of the wonderful pictures I took while there last Sunday. Please don't ask how, it will depress me all over again. Anyway, my son lit up with the spirited reading of Green Eggs and Ham by actors Randy Oglesby and M.C. Gainey.
In an interesting display of the ripple effect, my son has been requesting to read his CD-ROM version of the book throughout the week; and tonight he started reciting lines from the book while helping me cook, as he sampled the sharp cheddar cheese we were grating.
We also enjoyed the creative puppetry of the Rogue Artists Ensemble in their performance of The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone, based on the picture book by Timothy Basil Ering. I love the concept of the puppet as extension of the puppeteer. Where does one end and the other begin?
Lisa Yee was funny as usual on her panel, "Tough Issues, Light Touches: Writing for Teens Without Turning Them Off." This was the only children's literature panel of the day (hint to the organizers: How about at least one more for next year?) And we enjoyed listening to Erica Silverman read her newest book, There Was a Wee Woman...
Finally, my Southern California helio-biblio index theory proved correct once more. Books are hot and so is the weather when L.A. hosts a book fair. Can I hear you say, "90's?"
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