I was born in a four-room frame house in the shadow of a cement mill. The mill, at the edge of a small northern-Illinois town called Oglesby, provided the houses for the families of the men who worked there. My father was a chemist at the mill, so throughout my childhood, the dusty, old mill filled my horizon.
How I loved it all! The huffing, banging trains delivering coal and carrying away cement. The deep-bellied whistles from the mill itself, announcing that my father would soon come walking home. The wide green yard, the luxuriant woods that took up where the yard left off, even the column of smoke that puffed across my sky from the tall stack.
My mother was a taciturn woman who loved babies, and she surrounded me—and my brother, Willis, who was two years older—with an unspoken but utterly solid love.
There happened to be a goodly pack of boys for Willis to run with, but few—often no—girls for me. But I entertained myself easily in my mother’s cozy world and can remember no discontent from those early years. I don’t know what it was like for Willis to leave this idyllic existence for school. For me, it was like being cast out of paradise.
To read Marion’s blog, clickhere. To learn the inspiration behind her blog, read below!
When did you start your blog journey?
I’ve been writing for young people—board books through YA novels—for forty years and have published about 85 books. I only began blogging last spring in response to my desire to promote my first novel in verse, Little Dog, Lost.
Despite wanting to give that book all the exposure I could, I was initially resistant to blogging. It felt like sending my words out to disappear into the ether, no one out there to receive them. But that’s what publishers want you to do these days, and the folks who manage my website and various other aspects of my publishing life at Winding Oak encouraged me, so I took the leap.
At first, I wrote about Little Dog, Lost, of course. That’s why I started the blog. But it didn’t take long before I ran out of things to say about that one book, and then I turned to what I have done for even longer than I’ve been publishing . . . to being the teaching writer.
I love teaching, especially teaching writing to adults. I have recently retired from my position on the faculty at Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, so this gave me a way to continue teaching without the commitment of working directly with a group of students. And it gives me a chance to teach without leaving home.
What is best about writing my blog is what is always best in teaching writing. I get to struggle out loud with whatever conundrum I’m solving for myself in my own writing at each particular moment, and that cuts through the isolation of this good work.
Then some of my readers write back, which thrills me and lets me know that my words really are being read, despite this strange ethereal medium.
What nuggets of wisdom have you discovered about yourself and your writing process along the way?
I’ve discovered that whatever I’m struggling with others are struggling with, too. And that, because I’m what reviewers these days politely call a “veteran”—it means I’ve been around for a l o n g time—other folks are reassured that their struggles are legitimate because, after forty years, I’m still trying to get these things right.
Where do you get your blog ideas?
Sometimes I get ideas from questions or responses from my readers—and I love having that happen—but most of the time my blogging ideas simply rise out of whatever I’m writing at the moment, whatever I’m thinking about concerning what I’m writing, and whatever questions I’m asking myself.
Perhaps more than anything else that’s the core of my blog, the message that the questions are what matters . . . in writing and in life.