Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Out Standing in the Field

The blog has started to bring me attention in unexpected ways. People have started to acknowledge the blog with awards and have been asking to interview me about how I successfully created the blog.

The question is confusing to me perhaps because of the simplicity of the answer. I had an idea and worked at it. I took a lot of rejection. I cried and tried a little harder. I kept working. That’s it. Nobody else was really interested in this idea at the beginning. But I was, so I gave up other things and worked at it. Now other people are finding it intriguing and inspirational as I did from the very beginning. But back then I was all alone.

This reminds me a lot of when my kids were little. I did things a little differently. I didn’t let them watch Disney movies when they were two years old, I didn’t buy them barbies or toy guns which all of their friends had. But I bought a lot of books. By the time they got to kindergarten, both kids could read very well. Parents asked me in astonishment what I had done. “I read to them, ” I said. No one had ever been interested in my child rearing approach before. I was the lone voice at playgroup in objecting to Cinderella. Now they wanted me to offer advice.

The lone voice has stuck with me over the years. Just last week I was sitting in an education class designed to train student teachers. The instructor was screaming at us in an angry, aggressive manner while explaining to us that it is essential that we remain professional at all times. Apparently I was the only one to see the irony in this situation or at least the only one to speak out about it.

Writing nonfiction has brought up many of these same issues over the last few years. I’ve felt like I have had a strong sense of what I wanted to accomplish, even if it hasn’t been done before. Yet while most of my rejections begin with “your writing is strong” it’s the inevitable “but” that follows that I haven’t been able to shake. I envisioned being outstanding in the field, but I now must admit to feeling only like I’m out standing in the field. I haven’t given up, not completely, although I have found myself on an extended hiatus over the last few months. I wonder if my new adventure in a classroom will bring any insight to my writing life. I’m anxious to incorporate nonfiction on a daily basis and see how I can play around with the curriculum. I’m fighting the urge to look up lesson plans on the Internet for some of my favorite nonfiction. I know the best thing I can do is to figure it out for myself.


Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

We do not read enough nonfiction with children. They love true stories. Why do we avoid it?

jama said...

Thank you for all your work creating I.N.K., Linda. I remember when it first went live, and how excited I was with your idea. Now it's hard to imagine the kidlit blogosphere without it. I'm happy I.N.K. is getting much deserved recognition!

Unknown said...

Linda, you have my complete understanding and admiration! In looking at the habits of highly successful people, Stephen Covey suggests that actions based on principles breed success. You stuck to your guns and now, as we enter our third year, I can't thank you enough for this opportunity. I hope to take it to another level through the Ink Think Tank data base and our upcoming launch of our authors through videoconferencing program that will literally bring nonfiction authors to classrooms all across the country. It is not easy to be a pioneer. You deserve this recognition.

Rosalyn Schanzer said...

Go Linda! Here's hoping you've helped start the ball rolling toward a tipping point that encourages folks to approach incredible true stories with the same enthusiasm they usually reserve for fiction.

Anna M. Lewis said...

Linda, what you have created is amazing! Thanks for including me since day one. Thanks for allowing me to promote books on the arts and creative thinking - My love & passion. (Now, what to write about for Friday? Hmmm... )

Your professionalism, strength, passion and writing has brought us here!
Karma, baby. Karma!

Hannah said...

"I envisioned being outstanding in the field, but I now must admit to feeling only like I’m out standing in the field."

If you can write zingers like that, I wouldn't worry; you'll surely be out of your rut soon!

Bravo for staying true to your voice, however lonely it may be.

Deborah Heiligman said...

Years ago I wrote a biography of Barbara McClintock, the geneticist. The subtitle was Alone in the Field. Because she worked on maize and because she was alone out there with her idea of jumping genes. Nobody believed her. She went decades without recognition and then got the Novel Prize. When she got the prize reporters asked her, how could you keep on working when no one believed you? She answered, "Because I knew I was right." And she also said I knew it would all come out in the wash. So you might not get a Nobel Prize (shucks) but you have created a wonderful blog, that, as someone just said, already seems like an institution in the kidlit blogosphere. And you will also write books. Because you have what it takes. And we're all cheering for you.

Dorothy Patent said...

Being a visionary is never easy, Linda, and all of us "Ink Thinkers" can be so thankful that you stuck with it and provided us with this opportunity. Now if we can just get the educational system to realize that 'reading is reading' whether it's fiction or nonfiction, and that some children prefer reading nonfiction, we'll have helped the system produce thousands more happy, proficient readers.

Claudette Young said...

I just now discovered this site because it was recommended by one of my networking friends. I love it. I wish I'd known it was here months ago. I, too, struggle to get anyway with my writing, but I have begun to see the light at the end of the tunnel this past month. It takes the work and dedication regardless of what's happening around us.

I can understand why you've gotten awareds. Don't sell yourself or your idea short. A friend once told me that the simplest ideas are the most difficult to understand for there are few words with which to explain them. Perhaps that has been your problem. The idea was brilliantly simple and everyone knows that institutions always make things more complicated than they really are.

Great job, girl. Keep it up and take us will you.

daniel john said...

Other people are finding it intriguing and inspirational as you did from the very beginning. But back then you was all alone,Very nice.

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Anonymous said...

This blog is an oasis where researchers and writers and readers drink. Thank you for your stick-to-it-ness.