Sandy Brehl is an educator and active member of SCBWI, (www.SCBWI.org). She enjoys gardening, art, and travel (to Norway, of course). She lives in the Milwaukee area and hopes you’ll visit her website (www.SandyBrehl.com) to learn more about ODIN’S PROMISE and follow her blog. She also posts reviews and commentary about picture books at http://UnpackingPictureBookPower.blogpot.com.
Follow her on Twitter @SandyBrehl and @PBWorkshop.
I’m not sure I became a writer as much as I discovered I was a writer. I found it surprising when a teacher would select something I wrote for special praise. That was particularly true for fiction. I knew my writing was “good”, in that I could use it for assignments, to communicate information, write letters, etc. I just didn’t think of myself as a storyteller kind of writer until a series of teachers pointed out that… I was!
There’s a funny, kind of embarrassing story I’ll tell about when I first considered writing for publication in a future blog post.
I write because my mind tends to race, to flit from one thing to the next, to juggle many ideas at once. When I write, I can take an idea and focus, build my thoughts into something that makes better sense, reread what I’ve been saying, and discover what was hiding in my head as I hurry through my days and nights.
Everything inspires me to write! Really! My dad’s army nickname during World War II was “Thousand Words Brehl”. Even in the midst of a war his buddies knew that when he had a chance he’d talk your ear off. I’ve always been the same- no shortage of words in my mind or in my mouth. Everything I read, see, hear seems to remind me of something else, to make me wonder about something, to connect in some way that leads to another idea. If I had to name one thing that inspires me to write, to write well, and to write widely it would be reading. I read as much as I possibly can, and admire so much of what other writers do.
If you want to write, first read as much as possible of the types of things you want to write. Try to write “take-offs” on your favorites, write an alternate ending, tell the same story from another character’s point of view. Write often, write widely, and write what you enjoy. In time, you’ll develop better techniques, but you’ll also find your footing and have the confidence to explore your own path.
It’s always a good idea to find others who love to write and share your work, looking for encouragement but also for caring suggestions and concerns. They will lead you to improve.
“Favorite” is a word I avoid, so I usually say “some of my favorites” instead. I’ll be blogging about “some of” my childhood reading favorites. For now, there’s this:
My earliest memories of stories center around having bedtime stories read to us (the four of us piled together) from old books with collections of traditional tales and limited illustrations. I can still recall most of those, but “two of my favorites” would be the Little Turtle Who Couldn’t Stop Talking and the Greedy Old Woman. You’ve probably never heard of either one of these stories. I’ve redone both as picture books and hope to be able to share them with readers in published form someday.
On Sunday mornings Dad would read aloud the funny papers to all of us, too, but those aren’t what most people mean by stories.I have worked on text for a graphic story for early readers, though, and hope to do more of that work. A day is not complete for me if I haven’t read the comics in the daily newspaper.
One of the things I enjoy most about writing, once I’ve done everything I can to make it the best I possibly can, is sharing it with someone and watching his/her face while it is read. The looks on their faces let me know if I was able to work that magic- to build ideas in my mind, turn that into a series of squiggles on paper, and see my ideas climb into their minds.
Another of my favorite things is failing at that in some way, but having the reader take the time and thought to discuss it with me, to point out ways they were confused or when they lost interest. These are the things I can take back to rework the story and make it stronger, more interesting, more magical.
I’ll be sharing lots of favorite authors and titles in upcoming blog posts. I enjoy every kind of book for every age, fiction and non-fiction, but each of those categories has many favorites among them. And that changes over time, too. In the category of historical fiction for young readers, I would have to include among many favorites: Lois Lowry, Laurie Halse Anderson, Shana Corey, MIldred D. Taylor, and Christopher Paul Curtis.
Thanks for trying to learn more “ABOUT” me, and I hope you’ll help me learn more “ABOUT” you, too.