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Wednesday, July 18, 2012


The theme for the blog chain this month is “celebrate.” Please click on the links in the right hand column to see what my friends have to say about our theme.


Lin Oliver’s keynote speech at the Spring SCBWI conference was filled with gems. Many were things we’ve heard before. But some took me from “duh” to “aha!”

Her writing tip from Bruce Coville was one of those: Follow your weirdness.

For me, weirdness speaks to the use of humor. I never advanced past 4th grade humor. Weird. I love most to write for middle grade readers and throw as much weird humor their way as I can.  

But weirdness is not limited to humor. An unknown world filled with dragons, house elves and pus-filled tubor plants? Weird.  

Vampires that drink animal blood instead of human blood? Weird. 

A talking donkey who can’t keep his tail pinned to his bum? Weird. 

But wonderful. And delightful to children. 

Lin’s point spoke to me about fear. We are creative. We do come up with unconventional ideas. But some of us corral our muse and tie her to the railroad tracks. As a result, instead of peanut-popping puffer fish, our stories end up with pink-eyed bunnies who only get mad enough to occasionally raise the dust when they stamp their dainty foot.  

Now if those bunnies’ eyes turned green and the dust was actually smoke because of the flames shooting out of their fluffy white tails, and spoke only in haiku, we’d have a weird, but creative and unconventional character. 

What’s the worst that could happen if you embraced your weirdness and wrote a story that was weirder than weird? You’d have a whole bunch of words you might not use.  

Or you might have a story that would delight children.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for making us just the way we are. Thank you for the creativity you have gifted us with. Please show us ways today to celebrate and use our creativity to glorify you. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? How do you celebrate your weirdness?

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This article recently ran in the Northern California regional newsletter for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).


chris said...

lol... ok, we're on the same wavelength here Carol. Mine strange humor seems to come and go... right at the moment I'm spot on though working on a bingy one for tomorrow :-)

Celebrate creativity... and weirdness... we're all a little off in our own way :-)

lynnmosher said...

LOL Loved your celebrate weirdness! Weird always reminds me of my mother. I once wrote about this. My sister and her son lived with my mother for several years after my dad died. My nephew would always say, "Nonnie, you're weird!" He meant it lovingly. Her response? I'm not weird; I'm just peculiar!" I'll have to develop my weirdness, er, let it show! Thanks for another great post, Carol!

From Carols Quill said...

@ Chris and Lynn - I love the "idiosyncrasies" of people...usually. Imagine if God made us all the same. Boring!

Adam Collings said...

Fun post.
I think you are on to something. Weirdness is definitely a useful tool in writing stories for children.

From Carols Quill said...

Thanks Adam. Personally, I think weirdness benefits all forms of writing to some extent. It's about thinking outside the box. Cheers!

SandiGrace said...

Hi Carol, I enjoyed this post. It truly made me smile, because I can be incredibly weird. LOL I never thought about celebrating that fact. Due to incredible pressure to conform, weirdness is something I have enjoyed (mostly) in the privacy of my own mind. My family knows. When they see a certain goofy smile on my face, or a look in my eye, they say, "Uh, Oh!" Thanks for this encouragement. Now if I can harness this "gift" so I don't go run wild ... :)

SandiGrace said...

Uh, so I don't let it run wild.

From Carols Quill said...

@ Sandi - LOL - so glad to hear you're weird, too. But I caution you: don't try to harness the gift. You might get tangled in the reins...

Deborah K. Anderson said...

I haven't celebrated my weirdness before, but after reading this, methinks I shall. Maybe that's why the younger crowd likes my writing. I never looked at it that way before.

From Carols Quill said...

@ Deborah - we're all a little weird so we might as well celebrate the fact!