Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sideways Stories from the Laundry Room -- Robin

I have decided not to complain about laundry on the blog anymore. That’s my new rule.

But I couldn’t figure out what to blog about since I couldn’t talk about laundry, so I figured I’d complain about how hard I’ve been working lately and how tired I am and how I haven’t had a spare moment to even call my dear, sweet mother and also how much laundry I have to do. Oops. Sorry. Curse you laundry!!!

Anyway, now that spring break is over, I’ve gotten back into the swing of things and I’ve been a writing fool! First, I revised my chapter book, The Nitwits, based on suggestions made by an editor. I loved her suggestions and now I think the manuscript is in way better shape...like it just got a much-needed haircut. My agent also loved the changes, and now the story is back out in the world trying to be adopted by a loving, nurturing publishing house. I feel like a momma sending her son out to the big, bad world and yelling after him, “Write if you get work!”

Meanwhile, I’m still at home with my baby…my new middle grade novel that is starting to take shape. And honestly, I think it’s about to become my new favorite manuscript. (But don’t tell my chapter book. His feelings would be sooo hurt!)

Seriously, I just love writing goofy, fun books. I got hooked on the power of silly stories back in my very first year of teaching. It was fifth grade and I had the kids all day…every moment. And the moments after lunch were the worst. They were wiggly, unruly little monsters. I asked one of the other veteran teachers what to do with them after lunch and she handed me a book. “Just read this out loud,” she said. “They’ll love it. You won’t have any more problems.” It was a copy of Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar. That book is the quintessential funny middle grade book, in my humble opinion. And that teacher was right. The kids were riveted. They begged me to keep reading. Then some of them would come up to me later and beg to read the chapters I had just read to them. Now if that doesn’t tell you how powerful silly stories can be, then I don’t know what does.

But for some reason, I used to almost apologize for writing silly books. I felt maybe I should be writing something with more depth and a message since I was writing for children. However, in January of this year, Jon Scieszka was named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and now I’m very proud of my obsession with writing silly books. Mr. Scieszka is the author of The Stinky Cheese Man and The Time Warp Trio (among others), and when he was interviewed about being named ambassador, he talked about the need for making books entertaining. His goal is to reach those kids who don’t like to read. “It’s time for reading to be fun again,” he said. I love that guy!

Now when I tell people that I write goofy stories, I can say that I’m just following orders from the ambassador. That’s serious stuff, man!!! Now, if I can just get the National Ambassador for Laundry to make my load of whites disappear…

- Robin


Becky Levine said...

Hmm..Silly Stories. Yes, Louis Sacher. Dav Pilkey. Roald Dahl. Dr. Seuss. You're in great company.

Silly stories are favorites around our house!

cynjay said...

Urp! I blogged about laundry today. That must mean something...

Rita said...

Mm, I loved this post. The momma sending her son to work. The rah rah for goofy, fun books! YEAH!