Sunday, April 9, 2017

Aiming at Brave

I'm pretty sure the forty Bank Street College of Education committee members who sorted through six thousand titles to find a winner for each of their award categories were expecting to hear about The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones from their fiction category winner, not about the author's secret life. 

But since the two are tied together, and since I've come to accept that I can learn from my characters, I took a cue from Lincoln and aimed at being brave.

Any time you open yourself up, you make yourself vulnerable to all sorts of things. It's easier, safer, to keep the windows closed, the curtains drawn. So I was conflicted about sharing this story, these pictures, and my past life with the audience. They're things I've only talked about generally, if at all. Things that still make me weep to revisit. But, channeling Lincoln, I summoned my courage and decided that facing my fear was the only way to conquer it.

My publishing peeps!
I was last on the program, which could have meant that I'd be completely short-circuited by the time it was my turn. But the other honorees' talks were so informative and entertaining that I was wonderfully engaged in their stories and not even thinking about my own.

First up was the category of non-fiction which was shared by three books. Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay is a picture book about a young girl who lives in a garbage dump town and finds hope in making a violin from debris. The author and illustrator were both present to tell their sides of creating this book--it was fascinating!

Next in the non-fiction category, Leigh Walton, the editor of March: Book Three, accepted the award on behalf of the authors. He brought a new angle to a book that has received enormous notice and many awards, something I really enjoyed.

And the final non-fiction award went to Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor's Story. The author, Caren Stelsen, shared her research and how she worked with Sachiko for many years to write this book. Her talk really underscored how dedicated authors are to "getting it right."

Then, in the poetry category, author Julie Fogliano accepted her award for When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for all Seasons. Her talk was funny and sweet and unassuming and...wonderful. The parts about her denying she's a poet made me laugh out loud, but I especially love how her friend helped her get writing again after other pressures and responsibilities in her life had caused her to stop. 

And then it was my turn to talk. Which I did. And survived.

If you're interested in hearing any of the program, you can find the whole thing on the KidLit TV site. My part is only 10 minutes long and starts somewhere around 1:20. Focus on the pictures, not my quivering voice. 

As always, thanks for checking in. See you in the comments!


Library man said...

Congratulations, my friend. You deserve it.

Unknown said...

You were amazing, Wendelin. Thanks for writing and sharing your beautiful heart.

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

Thank you, Library man & Lita! I very much appreciate your kind words and support!

Jessica said...

Thanks for sharing your story, Wendelin. It helps explain some of the random tidbits you've shared over the years (especially the ones relating to Holly and the real-life inspiration for the bad guy in Hollywood Mummy)... I can't imagine how hard that must have been for your family, especially knowing it wasn't an accident. No wonder you write about forgiveness so well (sorry, trying to be vague so I don't spoil it for anyone who reads the comments first) - and no wonder your books are so hope-filled and hope-giving... Your characters all reflect your own resilience and ginormous heart. Thank you for being you, and for sharing yourself through your stories (both fictional and real).

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

Thank you for the sweet (and suitably vague) comment, Jessica, for making the time to watch, and for being you, too :-)

Shaina said...

I loved watching this! Thank you for being such a good human being and using your experiences and talent to write the kind of books that I read over and over.

Kylie said...

I went on their site and watched the video and I just really wanted to say thank you for sharing that with us, I really appreciated it. I agree with Jessica, definitely helps to explain some tidbits. Wendelin you are such an incredible person, I am so fortunate to have found your books and to have learned from you. Thank you, thank you for sharing with us.


liza said...

nice post

Unknown said...

Thank you for being brave and sharing another part of your story. I had always wondered about the forklift driver piece in your bio :)

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

Just saw all these super nice comments. Thank you for making time to find and watch the video and for taking a minute to lift my spirits. (You're more powerful than a forklift :-) )