Monday, August 6, 2007

Hey, writers, what d'ya know?

What do I know?

Off-hand, I know that a vertical vs. horizontal take-off promotes the best trajectory for a space-jet to enter low-Earth orbit; that there are tomato plants about to blast off on the shuttle Endeavor; and that the Karman line separating Earth from space is at an altitude of 327,ooo feet.

Am I an astronaut? A scientist? An over the top Star Trek fan?

Nay, my friends, I'm a children's writer...

I know that the prison fortress in St. Petersburg, Russia is where Alexei Petrovich was imprisoned and probably died; that the Moscow subway-system contains some of the coolest stained-glass windows in the world; and that the traditional colors of a matryoshka doll are red, black and yellow. Am I a historian? An art critique? An ex-KGB spy?

Nay, my friends. Again I say, I'm a children's writer.

Whether we're writing fiction or nonfiction, the story for all writers is the same. We say `write what you know' and research what you don't. And because of this we get the fun experience of becoming slight-experts about a lot of very unusual things. Just like the librarians, who love trivia games with a passion, we writers pore over books, court documents, thesis, disertations and web pages on every topic under (and beyond) the Sun. Whether it's bionic-hands, man-eating plants, or wild cats who love to swim -- were into it.

So, perhaps we writer-researchers ought to challenge the librarians to a dual on the trivial pursuit board - at our local libraries, 7pm. (Granted, our friends, the librarians are very knowledgeable, but I think we could give them a challenge for the trivia grand prize).

And for those in other professions who might suggest that being a children's writer is easy, requires only creativity, and leads more to child-like goofiness than to mensa-like brain-growth, perhaps we should say this ... traverse your posteriors in our direction, compatriots, the battle of wits has begun. : )