I recently reviewed You Nest Here With Me, by Jane Yolen and her daughter, Heidi E Y Stemple.The book is brilliant on several levels. It’s a bedtime book that teaches about birds. It’s bird book that emphasizes the bond between mother and child. It’s a work of art to be studied and re-read and loved.
Jane Yolen books make my heart sing. So spending four days with Jane last month for her Picture Book Boot Camp, was life changing. I felt renewed by Jane’s wisdom, wit and generosity. I felt so welcomed by both Jane and Heidi. It was as if they were telling me: "You nest here with me." In our efforts to imitate the best of birds, we can make our nest a comfy cozy place to hatch stories by doing three things.
1. Make your nest and write in it. On good days Jane writes about 8 hours a day. She’s the perfect example of how her saying “Butt in Chair” works. Almost 400 books later, she still writes every day. She suggests that we have a dedicated writing space where we can spread our stuff out and schedule time to write. For more on squeezing writing into your busy schedule, read my previous post.
Jane let me snap a quick selfie in one of her three nests, where she wrote Owl Moon.
2. Send your story to a different bird. Jane says you can’t count on editors knowing what they want until they see it. They want a book they love. When you’ve written a book you know is good, sometimes you need to send it to someone who may not like it and take a chance that they will see the brilliance of it.
3. Persist and your story will eventually find a nest. During the picture book boot camp Jane received several rejections. In fact, we had an entire discussion about the worst rejections we’d ever gotten. Jane said: “Change is inevitable. Change is inevitable in you, in your writing, in the whole world. Don’t chase anything but the story because that’s not going to change. The story is bigger than you and your reader. The story becomes the conduit between you and the reader. Write the story and never give up.”
Spending real time with Jane Yolen was like finding my writing home--a nest of learning and inspiration and revitalization of my writing life. As we take her advice by finding time for writing stories that soar, sending our stories out and persisting, we will reach our writing goals. Because after all, it isn’t every day that we have a chance to nest with Jane Yolen.
Kirsti Call is a homeschooling mom of five. Her debut picture book, The Raindrop Who Couldn't Fall, came out December 2013. Her family band, Calling Out, plays songs written by her children. She contributes to Writer's Rumpus, and Kids are Writers. If you visit her house, you’ll likely find her building a nest for current writing projects. You can find out more about her at www.kirsticall.com.
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