Sunday, February 16, 2020

Writing is a lot like skating, by Michele Weber Hurwitz

This month, we're reflecting on how we get started on projects -- research, new books, revisions. This topic always makes me think of ice skating, which I did as a kid and teenager for many years. Often when I'm at my desk, hands on the keyboard, working on whatever I'm working on, I think back to those practice sessions on the ice. The enormous concentration it took, the many times I fell while learning a new skill, and the dedication it required. A lot like writing.

Actually, a lot like learning and attempting to master anything -- an instrument, a sport, an artistic pursuit.

Whenever I first glided onto the ice, there was always a little thrill that ran through me. I would think about how I was balanced on a 3/16 of an inch piece of metal, a fact which seemed to defy logic. Feeling the cool air on my face, holding out my arms, then pumping, picking up speed, finally circling the rink in a whoosh. It honestly took my breath away and I loved being out there.

I try to remember that feeling when I'm getting started on a writing project, because it's essential. That thrill and passion I had then for something I loved to do. Because there are times that ten-page edit letter can feel insurmountable to tackle, or I'm stuck on a difficult revision.

For my new middle grade novel releasing this spring, Hello from Renn Lake, the way I began drafting was not the way I ended up writing the story. I knew my first draft was missing thrill and passion -- that whoosh. Initially, the story was alternately narrated by two girls who weren't friends, one of whom had been an abandoned infant, and the focus was on the search for her origins.

But as I thought more, that wasn't exactly the story I wanted to tell. Abandonment was part of it, but I realized it wasn't about searching, but about the girl putting down roots in the place she was left. I wondered, as I started to feel that whoosh, what if we aren't able to find an answer to our deepest, most troubling question? How do we come to terms with that?

That moment led to a different story, including the girl's connection with the lake in the town, and her unwillingness to abandon it after it's closed due to a harmful algae bloom.

And I knew the lake needed to narrate the story as well as the girl.

I glided through the next draft, writing it in a few months. I'm so excited for this book to jump into the world on May 26. It's a definite whoosh.

Find Michele online at micheleweberhurwitz.com.

2 comments:

  1. Ooh! I'm intrigued by the idea of lake-as-narrator! This sounds so rich and tantalizing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Claudia! I took a leap of faith with the narration, and I think (I hope) it worked!

    ReplyDelete