Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Guts and gumption

June 27, 2008

Forty-Sixth Star Press has asked me to work on another volume in the Oklahoma Portraits series. With two historical figures researched and written about, I finally put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and wrote the biography for the third on Sunday. I’d finished the research weeks ago and he’s been bobbing around in my brain for at least that long.

I think any writer will confess that the most difficult part of writing is the first paragraph. I’d written an outline and toyed with an opening sentence, but couldn’t get anything going. And then out it came. I wrote from 1:30 to 5:00 and it hardly seemed as if any time had passed.

The creative process strikes everyone in a different way. I seem to get hit with great ideas when I’m most relaxed. A “brilliant” idea tends to ruin any chances for rest because my heart will start racing and I’ve got to get up and write the idea down or lose it. The key to inspiration, at least in my case, is to capture the essence of that person.

I believe that when writing nonficiton for children, the writer has to grab hold of a kid and yank her into the story. The pace has to be quick, and the historical figure has to come to life fairly quickly.

When researching Ruth Brown, what I found so compelling was her dignified attempt to be served at the drugstore, along with her African-American companions. In 1950, attempting to break the traditional rules of segregation in that Oklahoma town took guts and gumption. I just had to begin her biography with this particular event. For me, it was her defining moment.