Maybe it was the arrival of summer. Maybe it was discovering the delightful matilijas that looked like a gathering of yellow-haired angels. Maybe it was watching a scrub jay cling to the tippy top of a swaying pine tree. Whatever it was, it seemed like a day to be grateful, not only for the beautiful scenes around me, but for writing itself, a passion I’ve followed for sixteen years.
Before I began writing, I was a dance major. My days were full of technique class, choreography and performance. As much as I loved the challenge of technique class because of what it demanded--executing the choreography to the best of my ability--when it came to official performances, I always felt as if there was something missing. After weeks of preparation and effort, I performed--then in a blink, it was gone. All that remained was an empty stage. One of the reasons I love writing picture books is that when I’m done, I’ve made something that can be held in my hands and read again and again, the first time just like the last. When you open it up, it’s like opening the curtain on a grand performance until the last page is turned and the literary curtain closes.
I love how writing allows authors the time to get it right behind the scenes. While I sit at my computer, I can whittle away on a manuscript until I can do no more. Then after it sells (of course!) it stays in its final pristine form regardless of what else may befall a dancer (or author), on or off a stage.
I love how as I work, characters emerge and feelings float into being and resonate with something inside myself. Feelings of effort, hope, redemption, or silliness, as the case maybe. Feelings of a new found friend, or a far flung dream finally realized, for characters and authors alike.
Yes, I am grateful for this wonderful stage of life.
Lori Mortensen is an award-winning children’s book author of more than 70 books and over 350 stories and articles. A member of SCBWI, Lori is a frequent speaker at schools, SCBWI conferences, and has worked as a writing instructor for the past eight years at the Institute of Children’s Literature. Recent picture book titles include Cowpoke Clyde & Dirty Dawg, (Clarion, 2013), Cindy Moo (HarperCollins, 2012), Come See the Earth Turn – The Story of Léon Foucault (Random House, 2010), and In the Trees, Honey Bees! (Dawn, 2009). To learn more about Lori and her upcoming books, visit her website at www.lorimortensen.com, or read her blog at http://lorimortensen.blogspot.com.
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