Scrapping a Chapter for “Wisconsin Writes”

Wisconsin Writes - Marci and Silvia AcevedoSoon Wisconsin students engaged in writing will have video proof that, yeah, sometimes you just have to scrap what doesn’t work. And who got to teach them that? Why, yes, you guessed right. It was me.

It was part of an interesting video project being put on by the Wisconsin Department of Public Schools, the state agency that runs public schools. The “Wisconsin Writes” project aims to catch Wisconsin authors wherever they happen to be in their work-in-progress to talk to students about how they’re advancing their work and to answer a few tough questions. My work-in-progress is the sequel to God Awful Loser.

It so happens that I was at a point in which I’d explored a certain path only to find it didn’t work, and so I was on the cusp of scrapping a full chapter. That turned into a talk about how sometimes you just have to try something out, see how it goes, get messy, be willing to change it or let it go if it’s not your vision, and embrace picking it up again where you left off. I hope hearing that is helpful to students.

Here I am signing God Awful Loser for the program’s host. Thanks, Marci, for inviting me. 🙂

What I’m Reading – A Confederacy of Dunces and Double Exposure

Today’s post is a sample of my eclectic reading, which I’m sure is no different than that of most people. I mean, who reads in the same genre all the time without exception? Not me.

A Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy TooleA Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole was recommended to me by Interviewing Authors podcast host Tim Knox, who interviewed me for his show (you can give it a listen here: shortly after the release of my young adult novel, God Awful Loser. Knox gave me a huge compliment (although I didn’t know how huge at the time) by saying that he hadn’t laughed as hard since reading A Confederacy, which garner a 1981 Pulitzer Prize. Of course, I rushed the book to the top of my To-Read pile, and Knox was as good as his word.

A Confederacy of Dunces is a comedic marvel. It has pretty mixed reviews, many of the negatives focusing on the “likability” of the protagonist, who is a snobby, idealistic, physically grotesque bum who still lives with his mother. She induces him to find work, and hilarity ensues. I tend to not dismiss books on the likability of the protagonist. I focus more on whether he or she experiences emotional growth and on the quality of the writing. Whether you love Ignatius Reilly as a character or not, no one could deny there’s a lot of great humor there. Thanks, Tim!

Double Exposure by Bridget BirdsallMy next read was Double Exposure by Bridget Birdsall in which an intersexed teen (having both male and female sexual organs) leaves his bullying high school across the country to start fresh as a girl in a Wisconsin high school. Her lifelong interest in basketball helps her make friends and eventually keeps her sane when her past inevitably roars into the present.

This is not normally the sort of thing I’d read (I’m not into basketball), but maybe that’s exactly why it’s good to change habits once in a while. It’s good to expand your world. Double Exposure‘s story was engaging (main plot, subplots, and enough basketball talk to learn something but not so much the book becomes mainly a sports story). The characters were sympathetic, and the conflict was real for our times. I’d recommend it to anyone who might benefit seeing the grey between the lines. In the interest of full disclosure, I acknowledge that I have met the author through events at SCBWI, but that doesn’t matter. It’s an enlightening read.

What about you? Read any good books lately?