1.) When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I've always been a writer. I never really thought much about it; it’s just one of those qualities at the core of who I am. I decided to explore becoming a published author at the beginning of 2017.
2.) What do you love most about the writing process?
Believe it or not, I love revision. Revision reminds me of Marge Piercy’s poem To Be of Use. When I revise, I “do what has to be done, again and again.” For me, revision is “work that is real.” I get such satisfaction digging into the real work – finding the right words, developing parts of the story that need it, and deleting words and scenes that don’t contribute meaningfully to the story. The critique I receive on my writing is what helps me make significant and (usually) effective revisions. I’m so fortunate to have an amazing critique circle: critique partner, critique group, debut group that offers critique, WNDB mentor, and, most recently, an agent!
3.) What do you love most about teaching writing?
The excitement that students experience when they become more confident writers and are proud of what they’ve written is what brings me joy. When students see their own growth as writers, that’s truly inspiring to them and to me. When they win writing contests and/or have their writing published, as has been the case with many of my students, that’s an added bonus. I look at the teaching of writing as a gift I give to students. I provide tools and instruction to improve their writing, but I also know that the only way they’ll become better writers is to write, so I provide multiple opportunities for them to experiment with writing in a variety of ways.
4.) What are you reading right now?
I’ve been an avid reader my entire life. The past few months, however, my reading of books has declined; it’s had to take a back seat to my writing. I do still read picture books to keep up with recent titles, discover mentor texts, and be able to write reviews for fellow authors.
5.) What's your favorite writing quote?
The first one that comes to mind is “Write on!” One that I used to say to my students is “Writing is power. Seize the power. Go forth, and WRITE!”
Quotes from others that resonate with me are:
“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” -Gloria Steinem
"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart." ~ William Wordsworth
"As a writer you are free." ~ Ursula Le Guin
This spring, learn the ins and outs of Picture Book Writing with Valerie on Tuesday evenings.