I don’t know about you, but Ramona, Henry, and the rest of Cleary’s characters were favorites of mine as I worked my way through the titles at my local library when I was a kid. I distinctly remember being disappointed when I my reading outpaced her writing.
In reading the various articles posted about Cleary in recent weeks, there were a few good pieces of writing advice that stood out.
You don’t know until you try
Like many authors, Beverly has said she sat down and wrote her first book to see if she could. Forty-one books later, with 85 million copies sold, I’d say that experiment was a definite success, but it never would have happened if she hadn’t started that first book.
Find a niche and fill it
During her time as a librarian she said she saw the need for books for children that depicted everyday lives – stories that children could relate to. Her books, which were drawn from both her childhood and her imagination, were just that.
“I think children want to read about normal, everyday kids,” she told NPR in 1999. “That’s what I wanted to read about when I was growing up.
She saw that there was a need for a certain kind of book that wasn’t being filled, the kind of book she herself would have wanted to read, and she went about filling it. Her stories are warm and fun and friendly, full of characters that, as a child, I would have loved to have met. She has also inspired new generations of writers.
Don’t Wait for Inspiration
Everyone has their own writing style, but one common piece of advice I’ve seen time and again is to write every day, or at least on a consistent schedule, to get your mind in the writing mode. Consistently writing tends to keep the creative mind engaged and can actually trigger bouts of inspiration. Cleary was a disciplined writer, sitting down and writing each day when her children went off to school.
In honor of Cleary’s birthday, and in response to her observation that children seem to live such scheduled lives these days, kids and adults are being asked to “Drop Everything and Read.” Sounds like a great way to celebrate a birthday.
Happy Birthday Beverly!
So, what favorite books / authors do you fondly remember from childhood?