Friday, June 12, 2009

The Ramen King and I- Part II

Okay, so I wasn't sure I was going to follow up my last post, but then I stopped by B.J. Anderson's blog and saw a post called Organic Chemistry Made Me Do It. B.J. essentially asks what caused you to go from thinking about writing to actually picking up a pen and writing.

I wanted be a writer when I was a kid. I read Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume and E.L. Konigsburg and I wanted to write books like theirs. But then I grew up and kind of forgot about it. I went into Deaf Education and when I got burnt out from teaching I went to work for an Internet company that developed kids' content. It was at this time that I went to Cozumel with the author of The Ramen King and I.

Now Andy Raskin is an impressive guy. He is quite brilliant (huge turn on), he's multi-lingual (even bigger turn on) and he is a skilled trombone player (yes, even bigger turn on). I was extremely taken with him. The problem was... I was too taken with him. I couldn't be myself around him at all.

He told me that one day he decided that he wanted to be a writer and he gave himself two years in which to get an article published in a national magazine. He started with small publications and within two years, he had indeed met his goal.

So, what did I do? I went home and decided I would get published too. (Not that I'm a copycat, but I had always had an interest in writing) I would write a picture book. I just knew that was my genre. I felt I had to prove something. I don't know if I had to prove it to him or to myself. But it was sort of like a dare. I was very focused on the end result. I didn't set out to write for the love of writing or the enjoyment of the process. I wanted a book on a bookstore shelf. I gave myself two years to get a contract. (Okay, so maybe I am a copycat)

I did meet my goal and I was pretty darn pleased with myself. Now I write for the love of language. I write because there is nothing more satisfying that finding the ideal word for rhyming picture book- the word that makes the puzzle pieces fit together perfectly. The joy for me now is the process.

I probably would have gotten to this point anyway, but he certainly got me here faster.

10 comments:

BJW said...

"You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, despair, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair--the sense that you can never completely put on the page what's in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page." Stephen King, On Writing

We all come to our writing for many reasons. But we stay because of our love for it. And addiction. You're a good writer. I love hearing your thoughts about stuff. I especially love your honesty and vulnerability. And humor OF COURSE!

BJW said...

sorry take out the first "despair" and the quote should be right. oops.

Corey Schwartz said...

Okay, Cynthea Liu, I'm sorry, you've been replaced by BJW as my "new favorite person." :)

Rebecca said...

Corey, this story of how you became a writer is refreshing!

I became a "writer" (instead of just a closet poet) completely by accident.

Kelly H-Y said...

I got such a kick out of the last two posts! And, wow ... two years ... that's awesome to have accomplished getting published - with a children's book - in that short of time! You go, girl! :-)

Corey Schwartz said...

Thanks, Kelly. But it's been SIX years since without a second. That has taken my ego down quite a few notches :)

B.J. Anderson said...

Great story, Corey!!

Lisa and Laura said...

Hmm..two years, huh? I like this goal and I'm inherently a copy cat. That gives us another 14 months to get a book deal. Easy peasy, right? Ha!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I'm guessing many of us come to writing out of passion for storytelling and the beauty of language. But the difference between writing for your own pleasure or for others would be approaching it as a professional. That's where this idea of setting a goal is great. I'm lucky in that I spent years as a newspaper feature writer, so the concept of deadline is imprinted on me. I also find crit groups helpful, since there is a deadline and an audience. Thanks for bringing this up. I shall consider what goals to set next.

MelissaPEA said...

Am I the only one who is giggling because you used the phrase "huge turn on" in a blog about writing picture books?