On Creativity: Karen Cushman

Karen CushmanA few months ago, I cried out for help. I was finding it profoundly difficult to be a writer. My inspiration and enthusiasm were buried so far below an onslaught of awful news headlines and downright hate, trauma, and tragedy that I struggled to reach them. What’s a girl to do? In a world so woeful and broken, how might I dig beneath the heartbreak and create? How could I free myself to write during these confusing and troubling times?

In other words, I asked, as Anita Silvey did, “What difference does a children’s book make in the midst of all of this political calamity?” Feeling distraught and discouraged, I went where I so often go for guidance—to my fellow writers. And I received generous, loving, thoughtful, eloquent responses.

Will Alexander recommended music; Ginny Wolff, laughter; Susan Hill Long, imagination; and David LaRochelle, honesty and kindness. Susan Fletcher found “sideways wisdom” through her writing. Margi Preus reminded me just to put one word after another, and Anita Silvey, like the rest of us, does it for kids. Susan Cooper and Gennifer Choldenko wrote about hope and Marion Dane Bauer, wonder. Jen Bryant, Dorothy Love, Avi, Karen Blumenthal, and Nikki Grimes stressed the need for engagement and writing out of our struggles.

I now add them to my company of inspirations, people whose words keep me afloat, like Mary Oliver:

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Like Gwendolyn Brooks, Pulitzer Prize winning poet, in her “Speech to the Young”:

Say to them,
say to the down-keepers
the sun-slappers,
the self-soilers,
the harmony-hushers,
“Even if you are not ready for day
it cannot always be night.”
You will be right.
For that is the hard home-run.
Live not for battles won.
Live not for the-end-of-the-song.
Live in the along.

Like Berthold Brecht, poet and playwright whose words found me in this dark time:

In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing.
About the dark times.

Yes, there will be singing about the dark times. With our voices and our words. In this dark time, whatever we may write will come from that place. And as the 1st/2nd century Mishnah sage, Rabbi Tarfon, whose quote is calligraphed and hanging on my wall, said: You are not required to complete the task. Neither are you free to abstain from it.

You must stay drunk on writing, said Ray Bradbury, who has so often said what I need to hear, so reality cannot destroy you.

The upshot is my despair and anger have not passed. Until we live in a perfect world, I imagine it won’t pass. But thanks to all who offered wisdom, compassion, and inspiration, I can write despite such feelings. Or maybe because of them. And because of you.

Now excuse me, I have a book to finish.

On Creativity: Anita Silvey

My question to several writers I admire: “I find it profoundly difficult these days to be a writer. My inspiration and enthusiasm have been buried so far below an onslaught of awful news headlines and downright hate, trauma, and tragedy that I struggle to reach them. What’s a girl to do? In a world so woeful and broken, how can I dig beneath the heartbreak and create? Do you have the same thoughts? If so, how do you free yourself to write during these confusing and troubling times?”

I have received thoughtful and inspirational answers. I’m happy to share them with you here over the summer. I’m posting them in a random order, as I received their responses. If you have your own thoughts about these questions, I hope you’ll comment.

_________________________

Anita Silvey

Anita Silvey writes:

Dear Karen:

When I read your letter a couple of months ago, I felt I had no answers to your dilemma. I had not abandoned hope completely but found it difficult to write daily. “What difference,” I was asking myself, “does a children’s book make in the midst of all of this political calamity?”

As usual, time and the young (in this case the students at the MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College), provided the answers. Having agreed about a year ago to speak to them, I attempted to garner some optimism for the occasion. But only on the day I delivered the lecture did I actually understand how to do that.

Let Your Voice Be HeardWalking to the podium I realized that the events of the last year have — and will continue to — change every decision I make about writing books for the young. As a small example, in August of 2016, I finally published Let Your Voice Be Heard: The Life and Times of Pete Seeger. The book had taken me eight years to write; when I went to document all my research, it came to eleven pages of footnotes and sources (in a 96-page book). Seeing the published book, I thought that sourcing excessive. Some paragraphs in the book had been referenced by five print sources and an interview with Pete. Who did I think I was? The New York Times, Washington Post, or Wall Street Journal? An adult academician?

But in August of 2017 I am thrilled that those eleven pages exist. And I believe that those of us who struggle to craft narrative nonfiction for young readers have an important role to play in the time ahead. We can show where facts and opinions come from; we can demonstrate using primary and secondary sources. We can stand shoulder to shoulder with all the devoted journalists of our time and the academicians who are fighting for an understanding of what constitutes real facts.

As long as I can breathe, I have hope. Now, more than ever, those of us who have the privilege of writing for the young need to reinterpret what we do in our books. What do we care about? What do we stand for? I want to help children engage in critical analysis of information. When the history of this time is published, I want to be able to say, “I stood with the kids.”

_________________________

The author of 100 Best Books for Children500 Great Books for Teens, and Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book, Anita Silvey has devoted 40 years to promoting books that will turn the young—and families—into readers. She has appeared frequently on NPR, The Today Show60 Minutes, and various radio programs to talk about our best books for young people. In a unique career in the children’s book field, Ms. Silvey has divided her time equally between publishing, evaluating children’s books, and writing. Her lifelong conviction that “only the very best of anything can be good enough for the young” forms the cornerstone of her work. Formerly publisher of children’s books for Houghton Mifflin Company and editor-in-chief of The Horn Book Magazine, she currently teaches modern book publishing, children’s book publishing, and children’s book author studies at several colleges.

On Creativity: Jen Bryant

My question to several writers I admire: “I find it profoundly difficult these days to be a writer. My inspiration and enthusiasm have been buried so far below an onslaught of awful news headlines and downright hate, trauma, and tragedy that I struggle to reach them. What’s a girl to do? In a world so woeful and broken, how can I dig beneath the heartbreak and create? Do you have the same thoughts? If so, how do you free yourself to write during these confusing and troubling times?”

I have received thoughtful and inspirational answers. I’m happy to share them with you here over the summer. I’m posting them in a random order, as I received their responses. If you have your own thoughts about these questions, I hope you’ll comment.

_________________________

Jen Bryant

Jen Bryant writes:

Dear Karen (with gratitude for bringing us all together in this conversation):

Where to begin, where to begin . . . ??? How is it possible to keep putting one foot in front of the other—one word after the last word—one breath after the next one? I think perhaps the answer is different for each of us, just as the flow of writing flows from very different sources in each of us.

For me, the words of those I admire, of those I’ve looked up to and have been mentored by—provide comfort. They comfort because even though the November election left me in an unprecedented state of disbelief, disappointment, and just plain disgust, I have faith in the goodness of ordinary people. I have no idea why this is true, but I think it has something to do with my chosen profession as a children’s author and poet. Children represent hope; poetry (inasmuch as it is singing from the soul) represents survival.

I have MANY quotes from writers past and present taped up on my desk and on the walls of my writing room. On the really bad days (when the best thing I can find in my morning’s New York Times is that Congress has adjourned for the weekend . . .) I pause to read as many of those quotes as I can before I sit down and begin to work. Today, I lingered over this one by my friends and long-time mentors Jerry and Eileen Spinelli. It’s the final page of their collaborative book Today I Will: A Year of Quotes, Notes, and Promises to Myself (Random House Children’s Books, 2009), which I highly recommend:

“I understand that some things are beyond my control. I also understand that my view of life depends on choices I make. I hereby choose to view the cookie as half remaining rather than half gone. When life challenges me, I shall turn to my resources the healing love of friends when I am hurt, the promise of new opportunity when I am rejected, my own common sense when I am afraid, confidence in myself when I am alone. I hereby choose to believe that life is good.”

It’s not always easy in times like these, but in the end, the only thing we REALLY control is our attitude. Therefore, we need to believe that life is, indeed, good—and do our small part, each day, to make it so.

_________________________

Jen Bryant writes picture books, novels, and poems for readers of all ages. Her three biographies illustrated by Melissa Sweet—A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams, A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin, and The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus—have earned Caldecott Honors, a Sibert Medal, and the Schneider Award from ALA and the Orbis Pictus Award from NCTE. SIX DOTS: A Story of Young Louis Braille, illustrated by Boris Kulikov, won the Schneider Family Award for Young Readers this year. Jen’s historical novels in verse include The Trial, Ringside 1925, Pieces of Georgia, and Kaleidoscope Eyes. Jen lives in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Visit her on Facebook or on the Web.

On Creativity: Karen Blumenthal

July 25th, 2017

My question to several writers I admire: “I find it profoundly difficult these days to be a writer. My inspiration and enthusiasm have been buried so far below an onslaught of awful news headlines and downright hate, trauma, and tragedy that I struggle to reach them. What’s a girl to do? In a world so woeful and broken, how can I dig beneath the heartbreak and create? Do you have the same thoughts? If so, how do you free yourself to write during these confusing and troubling times?”

I have received thoughtful and inspirational answers. I’m happy to share them with you here over the summer. I’m posting them in a random order, as I received their responses. If you have your own thoughts about these questions, I hope you’ll comment.

_________________________

Karen Blumenthal

Karen Blumenthal writes:

The ugliness just kept coming: Attacks on Mexicans, Muslims, women, and the press. The constant drumbeat made my writing for kids seem insignificant. I felt an urgent need do to something more relevant, to put whatever skills I had to offer toward something with more direct impact.

I looked at jobs sites. The local ACLU needed a development person, and I had a little experience fundraising for nonprofits. But surely there were more qualified people.

Lawyers were needed to represent refugees and immigrants who just wanted a chance at a better life and suddenly, a career I rejected decades ago seemed worth considering. I looked up the public law schools nearby. I was qualified, but a degree would cost more than $100,000—and three years was just too long to wait.

As a life-long journalist, I had never protested or marched. But terrified of losing my health insurance, I called and wrote my representatives in Washington for the first time. It may have been important, but honestly, it wasn’t all that satisfying.

My little “a-ha” came on a trip with my husband. He writes about airlines and travel for a major newspaper, and he can get pretty cranked up when he sees airline or airport employees ignore their own rules.

I always have the same response for him: “Don’t get mad. Write about it!”

He usually does, and it usually makes a difference.

Of course, that was really my own best advice. I chose journalism over law school or Wall Street because I believe in the power of words to make a difference.  I have long said that my book-writing mission is to share stories that give teens context for a complicated world. The most obvious and meaningful thing to do was to channel my worries and frustration into my writing.

So my new project is about a women’s issue I care deeply about. I recently agreed to do a biography of an important woman. And I am trying to write a potential picture book that speaks to a current hot-button issue.

The best option for any of us is to use our individual gifts and passions to deliver our most effective response. If you sing, sing. If you draw, draw. And if you write, write. The accumulation of our unique voices will make a difference.

_________________________

Karen Blumenthal is the author of seven nonfiction books for kids, including Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different; Hillary Rodham Clinton: A Woman Living History, and Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine and the Lawless Years of Prohibition. Before that, she was a reporter, editor and Dallas Bureau Chief at the Wall Street Journal for more than twenty years. Visit her website

On Creativity: Margi Preus

July 20th, 2017

My question to several writers I admire: “I find it profoundly difficult these days to be a writer. My inspiration and enthusiasm have been buried so far below an onslaught of awful news headlines and downright hate, trauma, and tragedy that I struggle to reach them. What’s a girl to do? In a world so woeful and broken, how can I dig beneath the heartbreak and create? Do you have the same thoughts? If so, how do you free yourself to write during these confusing and troubling times?”

I have received thoughtful and inspirational answers. I’m happy to share them with you here over the summer. I’m posting them in a random order, as I received their responses. If you have your own thoughts about these questions, I hope you’ll comment.

_________________________

Margi Preus (Shirleen Hieb Photography)

Margi Preus writes:

Here’s how bad it is: I can barely muster up the wherewithal to write a blog post, much less a novel. I’m just too busy reading the news feed on my phone.

Back when I used to write, I wrote mostly historical fiction. I noticed, as Avi pointed out in a June 8 post in this blog, that there are “many moments in history which echo today’s world.” That’s for sure. If there’s one thing you get confronted by when you write historical fiction is how this has all happened before, and how bad it has been—worse, lots of times. Lots worse. But then you find stories of people who have dug themselves out, have risen like phoenixes from the ashes, or somehow shone a light or shown a way forward. Or who, in spite of everything, just kept valiantly moving forward. One foot in front of the other.

While writing my first novel, Heart of a Samurai, a lot of me was deeply despondent about the Iraq War and some hateful rhetoric of the times. Writing about a friendship between a Japanese boy and an American sea captain might seem far away from that reality, but for me, their friendship—two people from countries deeply antagonistic toward each other–was solace. I was reminded that individuals, one at a time, could steer their way out of antagonism. I was also reminded, every day, that this single friendship helped pave the way for a peaceful resolution to what could have been a deadly encounter between east and west. For me, writing that story became my daily prayer.

Excuse me while I check my news feed.

Okay, I’m back. Where was I? Ah, yes. I guess the only way is forward. I guess the only way, in these backward times, is to lean into the headwind and no matter how much the wind pushes us back, just keep inching forward.

How? I don’t know, but once in awhile, during a slow news moments, I put pen to paper. The movement of the pen—forward—feels positive. The filling of the page feels like something is getting accomplished. Turning the notebook page to the next feels like forward motion. There’s the soft, nonjudgemental whisper of pen on paper. Words are being set down. Witness is being borne. Light is being shone into dark corners. One word in front of the other.

_________________________

Margi Preus

Margi Preus is the Newbery Honor winning author of Heart of a Samurai and other books for young readers, including West of the Moon, Enchantment Lake, Shadow on the Mountain, and The Bamboo Sword. Her books have won multiple awards, landed on many “best of” lists, been honored as ALA/ALSC Notables, selected as an NPR Backseat Book Club pick, chosen for community reads, and translated into many languages. The latest, The Clue in the Trees, the second in the Enchantment Lake mystery series, is due out in September.

On Creativity: Susan Hill Long

July 18th, 2017

My question to several writers I admire: “I find it profoundly difficult these days to be a writer. My inspiration and enthusiasm have been buried so far below an onslaught of awful news headlines and downright hate, trauma, and tragedy that I struggle to reach them. What’s a girl to do? In a world so woeful and broken, how can I dig beneath the heartbreak and create? Do you have the same thoughts? If so, how do you free yourself to write during these confusing and troubling times?”

I have received thoughtful and inspirational answers. I’m happy to share them with you here over the summer. I’m posting them in a random order, as I received their responses. If you have your own thoughts about these questions, I hope you’ll comment.

_________________________

Susan Hill LongSusan Hill Long writes:

So much clanging and bellowing, so much horrible noise. As citizens, we can’t hole up and quit listening. But let’s listen, as well, to the stories of people who have imagined and who continue to imagine a way and a world that makes sense. Ursula K. Le Guin writes, in her essay The Operating Instructions, “Reading is a way of listening.” For lots of us, so is writing. Maybe listening (reading, writing) requires precisely what it seems we can’t afford—solitude, dream-time, head-space, nature, time for thoughts to flow without judgment. Maybe it seems indulgent to while away an hour in dreamy imagining. But imagining is not a small thing. It isn’t frivolous. Le Guin writes, “…the imagination is an essential tool of the mind, a fundamental way of thinking, an indispensable means of becoming and remaining human.” I like that a lot. That helps me.

This little note-to-self helps, too. It’s nothing much, the title of a poem. (Doesn’t Mary Oliver often step in to say the exact right thing?) When I saw the words, wherever I saw them, a shy bell chimed in my heart, and so I made a note and Scotch-taped it to my monitor: To be a writer is to have The Chance to Love Everything.

That’s encouragement enough for me. For you, too?

_________________________

Susan Hill Long

Susan Hill Long is a children’s book author. Her recent books include The Magic Mirror: Concerning a Lonely Princess, A Foundling Girl, a Scheming Pig, and a Pickpocket Squirrel, and the middle grade novel Whistle in the Dark, named a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. Her awards include Bank Street Best Books, Oregon Book Award—the Eloise Jarvis McGraw Award for Children’s Literature—and the Katherine Paterson Prize. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and two daughters.

On Creativity: David LaRochelle

July 13th, 2017

My question to several writers I admire: “I find it profoundly difficult these days to be a writer. My inspiration and enthusiasm have been buried so far below an onslaught of awful news headlines and downright hate, trauma, and tragedy that I struggle to reach them. What’s a girl to do? In a world so woeful and broken, how can I dig beneath the heartbreak and create? Do you have the same thoughts? If so, how do you free yourself to write during these confusing and troubling times?”

I have received thoughtful and inspirational answers. I’m happy to share them with you here over the summer. I’m posting them in a random order, as I received their responses. If you have your own thoughts about these questions, I hope you’ll comment.

_________________________

David LaRochelleDavid LaRochelle writes:

It is easy for me to become overwhelmed by the news of the day: political leaders acting unjustly, elected officials disregarding our environment, dishonesty becoming an acceptable mode of ethics. Everything I care about most feels threatened. All of this news can leave me immobile with fear and sadness. What has helped me most to keep functioning has been learning to set limits on the barrage of news that I expose myself to. At various times this has meant turning off the radio, avoiding Facebook, and taking a break from newspaper headlines.

Is there something wrong with me for feeling this way? Others seem to be energized to action by seeing all the injustice in the world. With all my heart I want to make this planet a better place, and to do that I need to be an informed world citizen. But too much news makes me depressed and hopeless to the point of paralyzation, so I struggle with balancing the amount of news I need to know against the amount that will stop me in my tracks.

As I struggle, I also remember this advice: today I may not be able to solve the world’s problems, but I can treat the people with whom I come in contact with love and kindness. And that’s what I try to do. I cling to my values of honesty and compassion, even when it seems as if others have abandoned them. And I trust that this will make a difference. That gives me hope to keep going, and keep writing.

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David LaRochelle has been creating books for young people for over twenty-five years. His many picture book titles include The Best Pet of All, How Martha Saved Her Parents from Green Beans, and Moo! He is the recipient of the Sid Fleischman Humor Award, multiple children’s choice awards, and a three-time winner of the Minnesota Book Award. A former elementary school teacher, David still visits many classrooms around the Midwest (and world!) each year, talking with students about books, writing, and illustrating. When he is not creating new books, he loves to read, play board games, and carve unique jack-o’-lanterns, which you can view at his website.

On Creativity: Susan Fletcher

My question to several writers I admire: “I find it profoundly difficult these days to be a writer. My inspiration and enthusiasm have been buried so far below an onslaught of awful news headlines and downright hate, trauma, and tragedy that I struggle to reach them. What’s a girl to do? In a world so woeful and broken, how can I dig beneath the heartbreak and create? Do you have the same thoughts? If so, how do you free yourself to write during these confusing and troubling times?”

I have received thoughtful and inspirational answers. I’m happy to share them with you here over the summer. I’m posting them in a random order, as I received their responses. If you have your own thoughts about these questions, I hope you’ll comment.

_________________________

Susan FletcherSusan Fletcher writes:

I find it both harder and easier to be a writer in days like these.

Harder, because the “hate, trauma, and tragedy” feel so intense right now, and it’s right there in our faces all day long. It seems difficult—and maybe even irresponsible—to turn away from the suffering and crises of our times to cocoon myself in my writing room and in the worlds of my books.

That said, I’ve found in the past that when there is tragedy in my personal life, writing can be a refuge. I can dive down into a book I’m writing and live in another place for a while every day. Right now, it’s 13th century England, in the menagerie at the Tower of London. In times past I have time-traveled to medieval Persia, Renaissance Venice, and places that never were. Writing gives me a break from the relentlessness of seemingly intractable 21st century problems. When I emerge from my writing room, the “real world” comes rushing back, but I am somehow better able to face it.

What’s more, writing offers a kind of sideways wisdom into the very difficulties I am facing. I’ve found that the crisis from which I am “escaping” by writing about a different world … seeps into the world of my book in altered form and lets me see it from different perspectives—at a distance from the intensity of emotion. Indirectly and through fiction, I gradually blunder my way to a better grasp of my thoughts and feelings … and then I can give them voice.

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Susan Fletcher is the author of a dozen books for children and young adults, including Dragon’s Milk, Shadow Spinner, and Alphabet of Dreams. Visit her website.

 

On Creativity: William Alexander

My question to several writers I admire: “I find it profoundly difficult these days to be a writer. My inspiration and enthusiasm have been buried so far below an onslaught of awful news headlines and downright hate, trauma, and tragedy that I struggle to reach them. What’s a girl to do? In a world so woeful and broken, how can I dig beneath the heartbreak and create? Do you have the same thoughts? If so, how do you free yourself to write during these confusing and troubling times?”

I have received thoughtful and inspirational answers. I’m happy to share them with you here over the summer. I’m posting them in a random order, as I received their responses. If you have your own thoughts about these questions, I hope you’ll comment.

_________________________

William Alexander writes:

William Alexander

I read the news every morning. Please don’t do this if you can possibly avoid it. I can’t avoid it. I am addicted to staring into that particular abyss. The headlines alone create a flailing, sputtering, inarticulate mess of frustration and rage that writhes inside me for the rest of the day. This makes it almost impossible to productively focus on anything else. It feels irresponsible and decadent to carry on and keep writing goofball stories about haunted Renaissance festivals and aliens masquerading as kumquats. Neither has the opposite strategy worked; I’ve tried to confront these feelings, to channel their subject matter into some sort of art, and it doesn’t go well. The mess is too raw and immediate. It won’t listen to discipline or allow itself to be shaped by craft. Molten lava can’t be sculpted. We just burn ourselves if we try.

Music does help, though.

Every day I drink my coffee, put on headphones, and listen to a single piece of angry, eviscerating music. This offers catharsis that I desperately need and can’t find a way to directly express. But I don’t have to. Others have been here before me. Others are here with me now. I’m not alone. The music shifts my panicked, racing pulse into the rhythm and momentum of a protest march.

Small rituals like this have always helped me structure my writing time. Just as brushing teeth gives shape to the day and thereby resists chaos and entropy—or at least keeps chaos and entropy away from our teeth–any small action can become a ritual that shapes our writing time. Tea, coffee, votive candles, angry music, a five-minute dance party in the privacy of an otherwise empty apartment, or reading a random paragraph of a favorite book out loud will, if consistently repeated, transform into an act of devotion to the muse. Sing in me, coffee, and through me.

I also try to remind myself that we need fiction—especially fantastical, historical, defamiliarizing fiction—to foster the understanding that the world could be otherwise, that it has been otherwise, and that it will continue to change. But positive, transformative changes are impossible if they remains unimaginable. Mental muscles need to be stretched. Haunted Renaissance festivals and alien kumquats will hopefully stretch them.

Ursula K. Le Guin wrote that “The literature of imagination, even when tragic, is reassuring, not necessarily in the sense of offering nostalgic comfort, but because it offers a world large enough to contain alternatives and therefore offers hope.”

Susan Cooper said at the CLNE conference last November that, “It is possible to fight your way to the horizon without seeing it. None of us is secure. Ever. We can’t give children security, but we can give them this one true defense against despair.” Then she quoted Phillip Pullman: “It is our duty to hope.”

Saint Augustine insisted that “Hope has two beautiful daughters named Anger and Courage—anger at the way things are, and courage to make sure that they do not remain the way they are.”

It may be our duty to hope, but that sense of obligation will not necessarily tame volcanic responses to current events. But small rituals help, and so does music. The story that we are in has a soundtrack. Listen to it. This will not scry out the future, or tell us how the story ends, but it will help us march.

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William Alexander won the National Book Award in 2012 for his first book, Goblin Secrets, and the Earphones Award for his narration of the audiobook. He has since written three more novels for Middle Grade audiences: Ghoulish Song, Ambassador, and Nomad. Will studied theater and folklore at Oberlin College, English at the University of Vermont, and creative writing at the Clarion Workshop. He currently teaches at the Vermont College of Fine Arts program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Visit his website.

On Creativity: Dorothy Love

My question to several writers I admire: “I find it profoundly difficult these days to be a writer. My inspiration and enthusiasm have been buried so far below an onslaught of awful news headlines and downright hate, trauma, and tragedy that I struggle to reach them. What’s a girl to do? In a world so woeful and broken, how can I dig beneath the heartbreak and create? Do you have the same thoughts? If so, how do you free yourself to write during these confusing and troubling times?”

I have received thoughtful and inspirational answers. I’m happy to share them with you here over the summer. I’m posting them in a random order, as I received their responses. If you have your own thoughts about these questions, I hope you’ll comment.

_________________________

Dorothy Love writes:

Dorothy Love

Would it help you to think of writing as a form of resistance to the toxic miasma that’s engulfing us all? Most of my friends are desperate to do something to counteract the current White House occupant, but lack the power of the pen.

I’ve never subscribed to the idea that literature for young readers ought to ” teach a lesson” —ye gads!!! but perhaps your characters can embody the best of our shared humanity as an example to those readers who will one day be in charge of this poor old planet.

Fire up your computer and tell your story as an act of defiance against all that has gone so horribly wrong in our country.

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Dorothy Love, the author of Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Gray, A Respectable Actress, Every Perfect Gift, and several other historical fiction novels told with mystery and romance, is highly respected for her storytelling and her research. She enjoys traveling with her husband, collecting antique ephemera, and playing Frisbee with Jake, the couple’s golden retriever. A native Southerner, she currently lives in the Texas hill country. Visit her website.