1) When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was in elementary school. I wrote a newsletter for my family called “The Pakkala Printer Press.” It told my family about all the goings-on (which, in retrospect, they already knew about).
2) What do you love most about the writing process?
I absolutely love the first draft when the page is full of possibilities. A friend calls it “big sky thinking.” For me, revision is tough. I know it’s necessary to revise many times, but I mourn the first draft while I’m changing it. I empathize with my students who don’t like it.
3) What do you love most about teaching writing?
I love listening closely to a student reading his or her work, then delving deep into what is working well and what I think needs clarification, tightening, or amplification. It is a transformative experience to listen in this way. The whole world disappears and the only thing I hear is the story. I feel so fortunate to have heard so many works of art during the past seven years—works of heart and courage and humor.
4) What are you reading right now?
Sigh. This is a bit embarrassing. I’m reading Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism by Georgia Byng. I think it’s the third time I’ve read it. It’s a wonderful book for children, and I read it to understand how magic for children is made on the page. From the back cover: “Molly Moon is no ordinary orphan. When she finds a mysterious old book on hypnotism, she discovers she can make people do whatever she wants. But a sinister stranger is watching her every move and he’ll do anything to steal her hypnotic secret.”
5) What’s your favorite writing quote?
There are many, but I like this: “Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.”– Barbara Kingsolver