Monday, November 11, 2013

Annual event at Children's Book World -- and Writing advice from Jerry Spinelli

I was in heaven on November 1st. Or, more precisely, I was at Children's Book World, in Haverford, PA for their annual Author and Illustrator night.




My only regret (besides the fact that I forgot to take photos - kicking myself, here) is that I didn't have enough money to buy a book from each of the more than 30 authors or illustrators present. And of course there wasn't enough time to talk to all of them.

This is actually a photo of Ellen Jensen Abbott from a previous event at CBW in October!


But I did talk to my friend Ellen Jensen Abbott, my friend K.M. Walton, and also Tiffany Schmidt, E.C. Myers, Ame Dyckman, Jen Bryant, Elisa Ludwig, Lisa Papp and Robert PappLee Harper, and Jerry Spinelli and Eileen Spinelli.


These were the books I purchased that night!

Also in attendance was my friend Ilene, whose YA deal (as I.W. Gregorio) was just announced in Publishers Marketplace. Yay, Ilene!

(Note: Yes, most of these authors are either YA or PB authors. But never fear, MG champions, because next week, I'm planning to attend a middle grade event sponsored by Children's Book World - you can read about it here! And this time, I'll try to take pics...)



Best conversation of the evening: I told Jerry Spinelli that I just finished the rough draft of my third novel the day before. And I asked, "What advice can you give me?" He said, "First, treat yourself to a milkshake because you've done something most people never do. You've finished a novel."

Then he told me to wait THREE MONTHS before tackling the revisions. As I thanked him and walked away, he said, "Remember! Three months!"

So I'll take your advice, Jerry. I'm letting it marinate until the end of January. And I'm already writing my fourth novel. But if there's anything I've learned in my years of writing, it's that there is no right or wrong way to revise a novel. Just like there is no right or wrong way to write a rough draft.

How long do you wait before revising a rough draft? Do you put it away and let it simmer? Or do you dive right into draft two?

28 comments:

  1. That "letting it marinate" is probably a good idea. But I have a horrible time with it -- I usually can't start the next writing session without revising what I wrote just the last time I touched the MS. ;)

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    1. Me too, Chris! That's how I wrote my first two novels: constantly revising what I'd just written before. This third novel was different. Once I got past the "stuck in the middle" part, I just wanted to get it done.

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  2. Sounds like an awesome event. And congrats on finishing your draft.

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    1. It really was awesome, Natalie! It's a tiny store, and it's packed with people that night. And thanks.

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  3. What fun, Joanne!

    I do try to let my drafts simmer (especially since I do a fair amount of revising while drafting; it's what works for me), but sometimes I dive right in, too. So, it depends...

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    1. Maybe each novel is different, not just each novelist. I'm more excited about this one, so the urge to dive right back in is hard to resist.

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  4. What fun! Like you, I tend to forget my camera--I hope you remember for the next event.

    I usually put my first draft away for even longer than three months! But I have just leaped from my third draft to my fourth draft in a matter of days. Changes presented themselves, and I didn't want to lose momentum and energy.

    Happy writing on novel #4!

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    1. Thanks, Michael. And I'm so glad to hear I'm not the only one who forgets to take photos! Jumping right into a later draft is something I've done too. But I let my first novel sit for more than a year between draft two and draft three because I was so sick of it by then!

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  5. I never wait long enough! I think I will try listening to that good advice you shared.

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    1. Let me know how it works for you, Rosi. Just because it works for Jerry Spinelli doesn't mean it works for everyone!

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  6. I usually have no self control in the waiting department, but I'm trying to learn. LOVE Eileen's COLD SNAP! She has such a fun style. I'd love to learn from her.

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    1. Ah, isn't COLD SNAP great! Her command of language is impressive.

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  7. Children's Book World sounds like a great place! And, I could never wait 3 month to start revising!

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    1. Few people can, Janet! I'm gonna try, but it'll be tough.

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  8. Children's Book World is so awesome! I got to go to the author's night last year but sadly we moved too far away to go this year. I got to meet all kinds of authors there! Mr. and Mrs. Spinelli are so nice!

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    1. And last year was the year I missed because I was sick! Sorry we didn't meet up there, Erik. Although I'm glad I met you before that. And I'm glad you've had a chance to talk to the Spinellis. They are the sweetest people!

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  9. Joanne, I don't wait a single day. I go directly from Draft 1 to Draft 2.

    But that may be because I am a pantster by nature, and I don't usually discover what my story was supposed to be about until I've finished the first draft.

    Then I say, "Ohhhhhh, that's what I wanted to write about."

    And immediately I start on the second draft ... which is really the first draft of my actual book.

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    1. Dianne, I remember you saying that you didn't wait long. So, in other words, you think of your first draft as your outline. Interesting... I'm a pantser too, and constantly discovering things about my story as I write. But I do like a little time between drafts to gain some distance from it.

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  10. I do put my drafts away before revising them, but the time varies from a few weeks to months.
    Thanks for sharing Children's Book World with us. I've never heard of that event before.

    ~Akoss

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    1. Sounds a lot like the way I've handled it, Akoss. For each novel, I waited a different length of time. The first, almost a year! The second, a couple of weeks. Whatever works for you.

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  11. After the first draft is complete, my mind goes immediately to the rewrite stage. I do let her sit for awhile (a week, sometimes a month), but it's always there, waiting for the next improvement. Three months is good advice, but so hard to do.

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  12. Congratulations on finishing that draft! For me, it depends on the situation. With the first draft I finished last month, I'm content to let it sit for a few months. But when I wrote my first draft of TBW, I realized about a third of the way through that my characters were not who I thought they were. I had so many inconsistencies by the end of that first draft that I felt like I HAD to jump into a second draft and fix them. Of course, it took me more than one draft to iron out those inconsistencies. And then there's the NaNoWriMo draft from 2009 that I haven't even gone back to read through. Haha! Best of luck with yours!

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    1. Thanks, Myrna! Sounds like you did exactly what your novel needed when you jumped right into that second draft. I had to do that with my second novel. Maybe each novel is different and it's up to us to discover the best way to fix it.

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  13. Amazing authors and books. I think I've only tried 3+ months a few times. I usually let something sit for a few weeks before I look at it again.

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    1. That's what most people tell me, Medeia. A couple of weeks.

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  14. Three months!!! Eek. I don't know if I could hold out that long... But I'm sure it's worth it when you do...

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    1. It's really starting to feel like a long wait, Gina. I don't know if I'll make it! :)

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