I’m back to work on I Am Anna Winkler (my work-in-progress) again. I haven’t been doing much work on it in the last month or so because I wrote myself into a corner and don’t know how to get out. But I need to figure it out because I’m due to read two new chapters to Andy’s class on Thursday.
Reading my work-in-progress to Andy’s class has turned into a really interesting experiment. I got the idea from my friend, Darcy, who read her work-in-progress to a 6th grade class before sending it off. She kept a journal of her experience, which she shared with me. I was intrigued, so I decided to try it, too.
Darcy was in a different place when she shared her work than I am, though. She already had a complete draft. In fact, she had a pretty polished draft. I’m reading as I’m writing. And the reason I’m doing that is because I’ve gotten so lost in the paid writing jobs I’ve been getting that I haven’t been producing enough of my own stuff. Having a commitment to show up at school each week with two new chapters will keep me producing those chapters. And by the end of the school year, I will have a whole new book.
This isn’t exactly something I (or Darcy) would tell an editor about, but I’m getting so much more out of this than I ever expected. I give the kids a questionnaire to go along with the chapters they heard each week. And they answer these questions anonymously. I’m learning a lot from their responses. I know that this is turning into a different book than it would’ve been had I not shared it chapter-by-chapter with real kids. I’m not saying it’s turning out better or worse…it’s just turning out different. I’m really looking at my own writing process differently.
The drawback to reading as I’m writing is sometimes I have to back out of something they’ve already heard. Which is, I think, what I’m going to have to do this time. I think I need to ditch chapter 19 and start it again. That’s the only way to get out of this corner I’ve written myself into. But that’s okay…there’s nothing wrong with showing these kids that writers REVISE!!!!