I’m here in Cabin 10 in Boyds Mills at my first ever Highlights Foundation Workshop. First thing I notice: it’s quiet. So, so quiet. It’s creeping me out! I’m used to working and writing surrounded by the constant noise of happy and unhappy children. Also, I don’t hear any cars. Or birds yet, but it is night. There’s not even the hum of the heater, but my little cabin is warm and snug. But the quiet is partially why I came here, right? To get a lot of writing and learning done in three days with nothing else to worry about or distract me. Im here to focus on learning how to write page-turning non-fiction for middle grade readers and up.
That’s my name on the door. I belong here, right? I was worried. I doubted I was ready to attend a workshop like this. Sure, I’ve written several non-fiction articls for kids. I haven’t written a book though. And I wasn’t sure I was Highlights-quality yet. But I have ideas. I have lots of ideas. And I’m open-minded. I’m willing to learn. I love reading non-fiction and I know what kids like to read. I belong here.
I am a little intimdated to show my first pages tomorrow. I have two ideas that I thought would make great magazine articles. In fact, one was almost accepted by Highlights a few years ago. But after studying the books of some of our instructors for this week, including Deborah Hopskinson and Steve Sheinkin, I now have some great ideas on how to boost these stories into quality, non-fiction biographies that could be really exciting for kids to read. I hope.
I can’t help believing a little bit in karma. Part of the reason I signed up for this workshop (which I’ve been wanting to try for awhile) was the fact that Highlights recently bought one of my submissions, a small science-based craft. But I took it as a sign that I was ready to try this next level of my craft. And when I arrived, as I flipped through the guest book in my cabin, I saw a familiar name. Alexis O’Neill stayed in this cabin! She writes excellent non-fiction and I loved her class at the 2014 SCBWI Conference in Pittsburgh. There’s some karma here.
Time to get to work!