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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tired, but Inspired

My time at Missouri Association of School Librarians Spring Conference was inspiring on several levels.  Professionally, I got to hear about the latest great things going on in school libraries across our state and, more importantly, had time to brainstorm with my colleague who shares charge of our school's LMC with me.  I got that little extra jolt of excitement one needs to carry through the end of the school year and the inspiration to begin planning for the next.

Personally, I have to say that being present for the awarding of the Show-Me, Mark Twain, Truman and Gateway awards to the authors of the winning titles was a mixed bag for me.  I admit it.  I was jealous.  I've had success of a kind with my books (how many people who want to write novels actually do write them, let alone see them published by a commercial publisher?) and am very proud of them.  But, I have to wonder what it would be like to have children and young adults reading my books because they were written, as Jay Asher put it in his acceptance speech, with them in mind?  Teenagers figure into my stories as secondary, albeit well-drawn secondary, characters.  I'm so used to having teenagers in my life, I can't imagine writing a story without a few hanging around the pages making life more colorful for my heroines and heroes.  But maybe, just maybe, I should consider (seriously consider) writing for them rather than around them?  I am proud of the work I do every day with young adults.  I love them!  I love their energy, their zeal, their curiosity, even their innocent brand of cynicism.  Could I people the pages of a novel with them?  Could I write them genuinely with the affection I feel for them without imposing my own adult frame of reference on them or judging theirs?  Am I willing to venture out of my version of reality and validate theirs?  Can I treat a single teen aged character as an individual rather than a type?

Let's just say, the challenge has been issued and I'm considering whether or not I am called to meet it.

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