Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Reading Like a Writer *

“Looking closer can make something beautiful.” – Cynthia Lord, Rules.

When I realized that my daughter was sick yesterday, my plans disintegrated. Since I didn’t have a Sub job, my husband was going to take our children to the bus stop so I could take a yoga class. I hadn’t taken one in about three weeks and was looking forward to it. No yoga. And that would be the end of errands. Forget about sending out manuscripts to agents and publishers. The day would be about my daughter.

The previous evening, I had begun to read, Rules by Cynthia Lord to my daughter. I had seen Cynthia Lord give a moving and inspirational speech at the NESCBWI Conference in April. Afterwards, she signed and inscribed my copy of the book with the above-quote, which she said is her favorite. But I didn’t read her book until after the conference.

When I did read the book, it struck me about what a distinct voice she has – she writes just as she speaks. The book is one of the best middle-grade ones I’ve read, so it’s no wonder that she won the Newbery Award. It’s about a twelve-year-old girl dealing with an eight-year-old autistic brother, and her struggle to accept him. The book centers on the rules the girl tries to instill in her brother, and that she tries to live by, but eventually figures out that some rules can be broken. I enthusiastically told my children about the conference and the book. Since then, my daughter has wanted me to read it to her, though I thought she was too young. But she asked for it again and I acquiesced.

My seven-year-old daughter inhaled the book (completing two-hundred pages in twenty-four hours), reminding me of when I was young, and the power particular books had over me. I stopped periodically to explain what I thought she might not have understood or to ask questions. Rereading the book has given me more of an appreciation of the story and the writing; each word was chosen with care. So many parts tickled us. I cried over the comparison between the brother’s broken inside and the handicapped friend’s broken outside. One day, I hope to get the opportunity to touch others with something I’ve written. I have decided to reedit my manuscript, Indigo in the Know again, in aspiration to improve it.

I thought I’d spend the day getting nothing accomplished. Little did I know I’d spend it sharing a beautiful piece of literature with my daughter. In doing so, it made me reflect on my own writing.

*Title of blog is the same as book by Francine Prose, which I started reading three days ago.


  1. Since I think the world of her, I decided to share this post with Cynthia Lord, and she commented on her site, which made me feel great:

  2. I love that she responded, and that her comment is "real". : j