‘Twas the first day of class, suspense flooded the room,
Yet, my stomach gurgled a wee sense of doom.
For I’ve been to enough workshops to know what to expect:
A roller coaster of emotions, which inevitably reflect
Anxiety, frustration, embarrassment and fear,
Joy, pride, and laughter, with an occasional tear.
And so there I sat, one beaming face amongst twelve,
Locked, loaded and ready, into my manuscript to delve.
“Essentials of a Picture Book” was the game plan
Kicked off on that morning by Yaccarino, Dan.
Rule number one: Never write in rhyme.
Unless it’s done well, it’ll sound forced. Every. Time.
(Obviously, I’m a rebel as evidenced by this ‘TWAS
But sometimes I gotta’ try it, simply because…)
Rule number two: Show, don’t tell.
“She was lithe as a willow,” not just “She was swell.”
Whatever your process, begin with a dump
Of info and scenes to get over the hump
That keeps you staring at a blank page.
And, if you ask me? This advice is quite sage.
There’ll be plenty of time to clean up in revision.
Therefore, strike superfluity with pitiless precision.
“Keeping it simple” leaves space for the art.
“Make every word count,” is said, right from the start.
So, I whipped out my WIP along with my pen
phenomenal from ‘Mabel the Hen.’
Egg-stremely died too, with that uplifting word,
A massacre occurred…
‘Twas the end of the battle—
my draft finally bereft
Of modifiers and alliteration—
not one adjective was left.
All adverbs too, slashed by my pen—
killed, sent to the morgue,
and left waiting for when
Some’d be earned back
and slipped into the text
Keeping the illustrator
content and not vexed.
So, my dear Reader, we’ve come to the end
And what did you learn? You’ll still be my friend
Even if you agree with Dan’s sage advice,
That I leave rhyme to the masters as a storytelling device.
BUT seriously, the Southampton Writer’s Conference was a blast. I learned not only about how to improve upon this craft we call ‘writing’, but I made new friends,
and even visited the Shinnecock Museum,
which exhibits some extraordinary Native American art.
I am also happy to say, that since I’m home again, I’ve had a few Yacc attacks.
My new works-in-progress, as well as the old,
are constantly being Yaccarino’d.