Writers at Work: Making On-line Writing Challenges Work for You, Part 4

Hi everyone,

Thank you for joining me today as Writers at Work continues with this month’s subject of making on-line writing challenges work for you.
David publicity photo
WRITERS AT WORK
Making On-line Writing Challenges Work for You
Part 4
David
Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hi again, Sandy Asher. I’m astounded by the number of challenges you seem to handle without breaking stride! On occasion you have mentioned that you think I possess a lot of energy. But REALLY! You make me feel like taking a nap after reading about all the projects you’ve been working on. You also are the personification of a writer at work. As you so succinctly put it, “A writer writes.”

Some of us may accept writing challenges and/or propose them because writers sense a constant need to test our mettle, stay fit, compare our work, get it out there. Some highly successful writers, such as you, also provide a service as role models for writers who may be a rung or two down but actively engaged in improving their craft.

Jane Yolen, for example, occasionally jumps on my poetry challenges with one or several poems. It invariably causes a burst of energy that attracts other poets to join in. Others have lent their talents as well: J. Patrick Lewis, Joyce Sidman, Laura Purdie Salas, Sara Holbrook . . . the list is much longer. One visitor was Gregory Maguire, author of WICKED: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST.

As I mentioned earlier, not as many student writers have been represented on the Word of the Month challenge as I’d like, but we’ve had quite a few. Two in particular who stand out in my memory are Rachel Heinrichs and Taylor McGowan. They were both 4th graders when they first began posting their poems. In those days we held a vote-off at the end of every month to determine the Poet of the Month in each category. The girls mustered so many backers for their cause, some from other countries, that my total count of visits for the day – something over 1,600 – remained a record until early this year. It has been a privilege to keep track of Rachel and Taylor as they have grown, developed additional interests, and are now preparing to enter 8th grade this fall — an unexpected bonus for issuing a challenge that young people can also take on.

In another case a teacher began sending poems written by her high school kids. These were students with various learning issues and much of their work was not of the highest quality, but they loved the idea that they could write poems that would be published on my blog and they were proud of the encouraging comments they received from other visitors there. Their teacher wrote me a note. “When I introduced poetry, my students were interested. At first, they tried to act cool and aloof, but I knew them… When I showed them poetry, they were a little interested. When I taught them to read poetry, they were more interested. When I told them to write poetry, they thought I was crazy. When they wrote poetry, they came alive. Were the poems good? No, not technically. But they poured their hearts into them and they loved seeing their names on your blog. And that is when their reading scores went up.”

Sandy, I can see that my challenges may be different from those that come with specific rules and guidelines. You have had success accepting the challenges but making them work to your advantage by adapting them to your own needs. In my case, Word of the Month Poetry Challenge merely tosses out a word for anyone to accept or not. Some months most of the poems come from regular contributors but along the way new names are always joining in the fun. There is no long-term commitment involved so people come and go depending on whim, time, and energy. Some of the first devotees of Word of the Month continue to post their poems while others have dropped out somewhere along the line.

From a challenger’s point of view, I take pleasure in watching a community of writers come together around a central issue such as writing a poem inspired by one word or writing something that is theme related or, well, writing anything at all. What invariably happens is that the sense of community serves like an extended family to welcome in newcomers and develop ties with everyone involved. People get to know one another. They exchange bits of personal history, express their concerns about an unruly line or a rhyme. Sometimes they even ask for advice although an unspoken guideline is never to offer unless asked.

So what do I make of these challenges? I think they serve an important purpose and you’ve already stated it: Writers write. No one ever said that writing is simple, fast, or easy. It takes work. It requires patience. It demands passion. Whatever it takes to keep us exercising our writing muscles can’t be a bad thing. I don’t take credit for the marked improvement I’ve observed in the writing of many who routinely post their work on my blog where I can see it, but I believe that those who write on a regular basis are going to get better. That’s how it works.

And now – drum roll please – Sandy and I are delighted to announce our special guest for next week’s concluding essay on this subject of “Making On-line Writing Challenges Work for You.” Our mutual friend Kristi Holl has agreed to join us on the 5th Tuesday so be sure you are here on July 30 to learn what she has to share. Until then here’s a way to get better acquainted with Kristi and her wonderful work. http://www.kristiholl.com .

Thanks, Sandy! It has been good fun as always.

Kristi, the floor is now yours.

David

Advertisements

New milestone

BULLETIN: Check this link to enjoy Jeanne Poland at Poet of the Week on Steven Withrow’s Poetry at Play site. Way to go Jeanne! Thanks Steven! http://poetryatplay.org/2012/10/12/poet-of-the-week-jeanne-poland/#comment-1173

 

Hi everyone,

Yesterday my blog registered visitor number 150,000. My thanks to all for making this a place to drop by now and then. Thanks, too, for all the good ideas, comments, and guest posts each month. Onward and upward!

By the way, I have another of Pat Lewis’s devilshly clever challenges coming up this week. Don’t miss it.

Here’s a note from Sara Holbrook, asking friends to help distribute the information below. Thanks, Sara, for sharing this:

I received a letter last night from a teacher friend in Pakistan requesting student artwork to create the longest, most colorful card for injured student activist Malala Yousufzai.

I reprinted her letter on my blog where you can also find the email addresses where you can send the artwork. The deadline is October 20.

http://saraholbrook.blogspot.com/2012/10/art-for-malala.html

It is hard to think of a more inspirational classroom discussion starter than Malala’s story.

Please forward, respond, or broadcast.

Pax,

sara

www.saraholbrook.com

www.saraholbrook.blogspot.com

(440) 255-1124

Have a good week everyone,

David

Our judges

REMINDER: Voting for August Hall of Fame Poet cuts off tomorrow (Tuesday) at noon CST. Don’t forget to vote.

Hi everyone,

I hope that those of you who have been in the path of the storm are doing okay. It’s hard to imagine so many people without power, many of them dealing with the nightmare of flooding and damaged homes. Our thoughts are with you all.

I want to remind you that even as we are selecting our August Hall of Fame Poet by popular vote, I’ve sent poems to our panel of professional judges so they can select their top pick for August Word of the Month Poet. To remind you of our judges, here’s a link with their names, pictures, and places to learn more about them. As always, I ask that you read their work and let them know you appreciate their time and talents. https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2011/05/28/word-of-the-month-poetry-judges/

David

W.O.M. poetry judges

REMINDER: Don’t forget to vote and encourage others to join the fun. Cutoff for voting is at noon this Friday, the 29th.

Hi everyone,

Here is a list of our W.O.M. judges and several links that provide more information about them. I thought you might like this as a reference.

Bobbi Katz
http://www.bobbikatz.com /
https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2010/04/08/bobbi-katz-tomorrow /
https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2010/04/09/bobbi-katz-today /

Charles Ghigna
http://www.charlesghigna.com /
https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/what-are-the-pros-up-to-with-charles-father-goose-ghigna /
https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/charles-ghigna-today /
https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/what-are-the-pros-up-to-with-charles-father-goose-ghigna /

Avis Harley
http://poetryforchildren.blogspot.com/2010/04/poetry-tag-avis-harley-is-it.html
http://poetryforchildren.blogspot.com/2008/04/monarchs-progress-and-avis-harley.html
http://www.boydsmillspress.com/contributors/author-illustrator/harley-avis
http://missrumphiuseffect.blogspot.com/2009/04/poetry-makers-avis-harley.html

Laura Purdie Salas
http://www.laurasalas.com /
https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2010/02/04/laura-purdie-salas-tomorrow /
https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2010/02/05/laura-purdie-salas-today /

J. Patrick Lewis
http://www.jpatricklewis.com /
https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/j-patrick-lewis-on-friday /
https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2010/03/26/j-patrick-lewis-today /

Rebecca Dotlich
http://www.rebeccakaidotlich.com /
https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2010/04/23/rebecca-dotlich-today /

Sara Holbrook
http://www.saraholbrook.com /

http://www.saraholbrook.com/bio2.htm

http://www.amazon.com/Sara-Holbrook/e/B001IXRVUK

http://saraholbrook.blogspot.com/

VERY important announcement!

Hi Everyone,

Some time ago I asked you to tell me which features you liked most about this blog. Top choice was Word of the Month Poetry Challenge. Near the bottom was the manner in which we select our monthly Hall of Fame Poets. Some love the excitement of the month-end race for votes while others are put off by it and would prefer a system that focuses more on the poetry. I promised to consider the situation. Now I have.Beginning this month, which is the first in our second year of W.O.M., we will have a dual system for recognizing our poets and their work. We will continue to post the familiar ballot boxes so you can vote for one adult and one young poet. Nothing will change in the way we select our Monthly Hall of Fame Poets.

Additionally, it’s my pleasure to introduce a panel of professional poets who have agreed to select the best poem in each group each month. I will send them the poems without names so they’ll judge strictly on merit. I’ll announce those winning poets each month at the same time we see who won the popular vote. These winners will be called Word of the Month Poet and Word of the Month Young Poet.

You may win once in each category during the twelve month period, from October 2010 through September 2011.

I hope you enjoy the new addition. I’m very excited to bring it to you. And now, meet our judges.

Charles Ghigna
http://www.charlesghigna.com/
https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/what-are-the-pros-up-to-with-charles-father-goose-ghigna/
https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/charles-ghigna-today/
https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/what-are-the-pros-up-to-with-charles-father-goose-ghigna/

Jane Yolen
http://janeyolen.com/
https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2010/03/11/jane-yolen-tomorrow/
https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2010/03/12/jane-yolen-today/
https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/what-are-the-pros-up-to-with-jane-yolen/

Laura Purdie Salas
http://www.laurasalas.com/
https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2010/02/04/laura-purdie-salas-tomorrow/
https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2010/02/05/laura-purdie-salas-today/

J. Patrick Lewis
http://www.jpatricklewis.com/
https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/j-patrick-lewis-on-friday/
https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2010/03/26/j-patrick-lewis-today/

Rebecca Dotlich
http://www.rebeccakaidotlich.com/
https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2010/04/23/rebecca-dotlich-today/

Sara Holbrook
http://www.saraholbrook.com/

How’s that for a lineup? If others join the panel over time, I’ll let you know. I’ve provided links to some background information about our judges. You’ve already met everyone but Sara as a Featured Guest, and Sara is on tap to appear shortly.

That’s it for now. If you plan to post a poem this month, remember that the word is CHANGE and the cutoff for submissions is next Monday, the 25th, at 10:00 CST.rubbermanDavid