Saturday, March 31, 2012

"Each One Teach One"

In Alcoholics Anonymous (the world-wide support group for recovering alcoholics) there is a saying: “Each one Teach One. “ It’s the idea that those who’ve learned and achieved something should reach back to help others who are a little bit behind them on the path.
This concept is important in writing and illustrating too. Many readers think that the writing life is a solitary life, and that a person who wants to be an author simply sits down at a desk one day and writes a fabulous novel with nothing to help them but a few deep thoughts, a little bit of poetry, some life experience, plus 10 fingers on the keyboard.
But we all know this isn’t true. Most of us learn from other, more experienced, authors. We are rarely just “born” with the perfect novel (or nonfiction book) in our minds, let alone the skills to put that novel flawlessly down on paper and then market it to an audience who will love and
adore it, and recommend it to all their friends. These things all take training, tips, and
guidance from people who have done it before us.
So this Spring, on Writermorphosis, I’ll be interviewing various authors/illustrators about the authors/illustrators who went before them and reached back to help, encourage, and teach them. They’ll discuss the wisdom they’ve learned from those mentors – wisdom we can each use in our own writing, illustrating, and marketing. We’ll share the knowledge that was passed down to us -- about writing, illustrating, editing, publishing, and marketing -- by our mentors -- and we’ll
share how those tips improved our own writing and helped us get those novels and non-fiction books into the hands of our agents, editors, and/or readers.
Before I start posting those interviews, though, I’d love to hear the names of some of the authors/illustrators who have helped you learn something new – and what they helped you with – just the basics, please. Some of you who comment might end up being interviewed here on writermorphosis!
I’ll start.
Alan Gratz (author of Samurai Short-stop, Fantasy baseball, Something Rotten, and several other great YA novels,) has helped me a lot with knowing how to plot.
Now which mentoring author or illustrator would YOU like to give a shout out too? Don’t tell us the whole story (save that for later in case I interview you on the blog.) But – whether it’s an author friend, someone you heard speak at a conference, or even someone who wrote a book about writing or illustrating, tell us their name, their books or accolades, and a one-liner describing the aspect of writing or illustrating that they helped you with.
What author or illustrator has “reached back” to teach you?


Jenny said...

Hi, Janelle,
This is a great question and I had to think about it for a while. So many folks have helped me and offered advice over the years!
I'd have to say, though, that Ann McCallum, author of EAT YOUR MATH HOMEWORK and other books, really taught me to revise. She has challenged me to continually look at my work with a critical eye and strive for absolute exact language and truth. Thank you Ann!

Janelle said...

Go Ann! Thanks Jenny!
I remember Ann giving great suggestions on revision when I met her at the Oregon Coast Children's Writers's Workshop a few years back.