This week, we’re resuming our discussion of what children’s authors and illustrators do in their spare time. As I said in my previous post, the results of my informal survey were so numerous and varied, that I’m devoting multiple blog posts to publishing them all.
One common thread in all of the responses I received was a NURTURING ASPECT OF OUR PERSONALITIES. I guess nurturing is an inherent part of who we are as writers and illustrators because we mold and shape our stories and become part of our characters’ lives. As I read through the responses, I couldn’t help thinking that the activities we choose to spend time on help us become more compassionate, more empathetic, more understanding, therefore allowing us to create three-dimensional characters that children love.
This week’s topic is how we nurture our communities. Again, enjoy your peers’ responses below in their own words and in no particular order:
Alexis O’Neill: In my work life, before becoming a children’s author, the division between work and spare time was really distinct. It was almost as if I led two lives – my life in the work-a-day-world, and my “extracurricular” life. In the latter, pursued photography, did lots of theater and made many craft projects. I always looked forward to holidays and vacations so that I could play.
But now that I write for a living, my life is much more integrated. I never know when holidays are coming up, I work on weekends and often late into the night and never feel as if its “work.” My volunteer activities are incorporated into my writing life. I put in many hours a week as a regional advisor for the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators), have organized programming for children and adults for the Simi Valley Friends of the Library and act as an advocate for school libraries. So, my free time and work time are all in one happy package.
Paul Fleischman: I tutor Spanish-speakers in English every Saturday. For several years I’ve coached grammar schoolers in making string figures.
Teri Sloat: I do consulting for authors and illustrators trying to get started or over a hump and I love pretending that I’m an editor.
Genny Heikka: Some of the activities I do when I’m not writing are: helping at my kids’ school (which I guess is cheating a little because I still get to be around great books, their library, etc!)…volunteering as a mentor mom, getting involved in cancer causes (my mother-in-law and one of my best friends are both cancer survivors).
Caryn Huberman Yacowitz: I am active with a non-profit that helps impoverished Jews in Ethiopia and Israel. I also run a film and lecture program as a volunteer.
Dianne Danzig: I also like to work with kids in the schools and with asthma – have volunteered as a nurse for Children’s Hospital Oakland’s asthma camp. The camp site, Camp Arroyo, is provided by The Taylor Family Foundation, YMCA, and East Bay Regional Park. Located in Livermore, it offers year-round camps for children with medical needs – different weeks/weekends are devoted to children with cancer, diabetes, burns, hemophilia, asthma, HIV/AIDS, autism, bereavement, heart problems, skin diseases, more. http://ttff.org/
Linda Boyden: I volunteer every month at both our local Barnes & Noble and at the Redding or Anderson Libraries as a storyteller for preschoolers. It takes up time, but it is so delightful. The audiences range in age from new-born to pre-Kindergarten and number anywhere from 30-90 parents and their Littles. As a former primary teacher, nothing helps Littles develop their own literacy as well as giving them the gift of words. We play with stories and songs and puppets and end with coloring and smiles.
Gayle Rusch: I knit hats for people who are being treated for cancer or who have had brain surgery. I coordinate a satellite group of an organization called Head Huggers. http://www.headhuggers.org/ It’s both fun and meaningful.
Deborah Davis: I volunteer as a WriterCoach at Berkeley High School with WriterCoachConnection (http://www.writercoachconnection.org/). WriterCoaches tutor students in Bay area middle and high schools on English class assignments.I’m also doing a series of free (and time-limited!) local school visits,focusing my presentations on what it takes to get published (revision,persistence, more revision) and how I’m turning my experiences in India into a novel.Janet Ann Collins: I don’t volunteer much because of health problems, but I used to interpret church services in American Sign Language. More recently I’ve done preschool story time at the local library, helped out in a Kindergarten classroom, and spoken for free about CA history to fourth graders at a local school. I care a lot about children and people with special needs. Michael Garland: My wife is a Rotarian. Recently, we sold prints of my work, through the Carmel NY Rotary Club, to benefit an orphanage in Africa.