You’re too old for that.
I was in the children’s room of my beloved library earlier this week and was horrified to hear a mom tell her son to put a particular book back because he was “too old” for it. She said, “That’s too easy for you.” I actually winced.
I’m sure this mom was very well-meaning. I’m sure she just wanted to encourage her son to try something a little more challenging. But, you are never – NEVER – too old for any book. I’ve shared it before, but I’m going to share again the wonderful quote from the fabulous Madeleine L’Engle, “You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
I am, by chronological reckoning, a full-fledged adult, but I will never, ever stop reading so-called children’s books. Some of my most profound reading experiences have sprung from the pages of middle grade, young adult, and even picture books. Adult readers are, as a group, less able to suspend disbelief than children. We have more specific expectations and are often unable to enjoy a story if it doesn’t fit neatly into the assumptions we have about such things.
Authors who write for children, have a greater challenge and a more diverse palette. Children will not stick around for a story that is less than mesmerizing. They will not abide characters or storylines that boring or predictable. Though they are willing to believe all kinds of crazy things, they will abandon a book if it doesn’t make sense within the context of its own world. In short, children are much harsher critics than adults who can easily be swayed by beautiful prose, public opinion, or author celebrity.
I will never tell my daughter that any book is “too easy” for her, and I hope with all my heart that she never considers herself too old to enjoy the magic of the stories that have captured her youthful imagination.
What I’m Writing:
This week I did manage to do a little bit of noodling on ideas for a fiction project. Instead of doing a freewrite, as I have been attempting to practice for a few minutes each day, I used my allotted time to jot down some notes about a story idea that had been rattling around in my head. I am giving the idea some time to ferment before I decide if I’ll pursue it further, but it is still buzzing in my brain a bit (which is a good sign).
As I scribbled in my notebook, I was struck by all the different things that had come together in my head to form this seed of an idea:
- The team structure and dynamics of the Robin Hood-esque band of “bad guys” turned good on the TV show Leverage
- The three-woman point-of-vie structure of my latest book club read, Finding Colin Firth
- The tone and “feel” of the movie Practical Magic (one of my favorites), based on the book by Alice Hoffman
- A series of characters and plot ideas plucked from two different story ideas that I’ve been circling around for the past few years
- A recent and rather serendipitous meeting with two local friends and the unexpected conversation that ensued
My point is that each story you create is made up of a mash-up of your thoughts and beliefs, experiences, and all the other stories you’ve ever heard.
As artists, as writers, we often get mistakenly caught up in the notion that we must create something “original.” This is folly. There is nothing original. Every story has already been told thousands upon thousands of times. The best you can hope for is to find a new way – your way – to tell an old story.
I listened to a great podcast this week all about the idea of repurposing different things in “mash-ups” of your own creation. James Altucher interviewed writer and artist Austin Kleon about his books, Steal Like an Artist and Show Your Work. On the episode, How to Be a Creative Genius (also available on iTunes or via Stitcher), these two talked about what it means to be creative, how to find your inspiration, and the importance of sharing your work … every day.
I have not yet read Kleon’s books, but they are now on my list to check out. Lots of food for thought in there. Lots.
What I’m Reading:
I have something a little different to share this week, a sort of a cook book called The Healthy Smoothie Bible. Here is the review I posted to Amazon and Good Reads:
When I first became interested in juicing and healthy smoothies, it was Farnoosh Brock who inspired me to take the plunge and give it a go. Because of her deep knowledge and unbridled enthusiasm, I gained the confidence to start my journey into what was then a strange, new land. Through her online community, I learned so much and got tons of support. Today, I enjoy healthy smoothies four or five times a week and it has changed my life.
The Healthy Smoothie Bible is perfect for both newbies and seasoned experts. Farnoosh has done a wonderful job of compiling not only an impressive collection of tasty recipes (including some from her community), but also includes some great “behind-the scenes” information that you need to really “get” healthy smoothies. From the different types of machines to the wide variety of ingredients and their properties, this book covers it all. She even shares specific brand names for particular ingredients so you don’t have to worry about being confused by all the options on the market.
This aptly named “bible,” includes sections on the lifestyle benefits of healthy smoothies; how to select, prepare, and store your ingredients; which tools you’ll need in your kitchen to make smoothie prep a snap; and which smoothie recipes are best for different kinds of needs (from detox to meal replacements to a quick fix – there’s a helpful “smart recipe tag” page that lets you quickly find just what you’re looking for). And after all that, there’s still room for 108 fabulous recipes!
Before I integrated healthy, green smoothies into my diet, I had a variety of health issues that had gone undiagnosed for years. From general discomfort to a couple of incidents that landed me in the emergency room with a morphine drip, these pesky issues had become an unpleasantly persistent part of my world. With Farnoosh’s support and guidance, I successfully brought green smoothies into my diet and am delighted to say that all those health concerns have vanished. Instead of having to resort to a long-term “diet” of over-the-counter meds, I am able to “treat” myself (both in terms of my health and my happiness) to natural, fresh food that makes me feel good.
I gave this book 5 stars not just because I’m a fan of Farnoosh and her dedication to helping people live healthier, happier lives, but also because it really is an all-in-one resource for anyone interested in learning how to make the best, most delicious, healthiest smoothies. Whether you’re just starting out or have been at it for a while and want some new flavors and recipes to try, this book will be a great addition to your kitchen library.
And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:
- Here’s How Bestselling Author CJ Lyons Writes by @KeltonReid via @copyblogger
- Time Management: Six Tips to Be More Productive and Get Things Done by @GiniDietrich
- Journal Writing Is Good For Your Health via @shewritesdotcom
- 10 Tactics to Improve Blog Readership by @randfish via @Moz
- 99U Conference Recap Vol. 1: What Are Your Creative Values? via @99u
- Psychological benefits of writing by @GregoryCiotti
- Reasons to Be Optimistic During the Disruption of Publishing by @JaneFriedman
- The 20th Anniversary Creative Nonfiction Writers’ Conference via @brevitymag
Finally, a quote for the week:
I hope that you always embrace the stories you love without guilt or shame or fear of ridicule. And, I hope that you always WRITE the stories you love, because those are the stories the world needs.
Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.