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).