Are you ready for an inspiring story? Rebecca Stead’s journey from lawyer to mom to secret writer to published author to Newbery Award winning author in just a few skips and a jump. Seriously, watching her writing career might make you think that Rebecca’s Newbery comes from the Lottery of God Given Talent.
But she would say otherwise. I think it’s interesting that motherhood gave her that break in her career to consider other possibilities. She became a “secret writer.” Are there any other secret writers out there? (I’m working on a chapter book!)
I love the idea of a secret writer. It’s not quite bold enough to proclaim: I AM MAKING A CAREER CHANGE AND INTEND TO WRITE SOMETHING PRETTY MIND BLOWING. JUST A HEADS UP. DON’T FREAK OUT MOM AND DAD. YOU’LL BE PROUD!
A secret writer is quite a modest endeavor, equal parts hope, anxiety, and butt-in-chair. And I think that’s the difference between a would-be writer and a secret writer. Discipline. Butt-in-chair. Writing 1,000 words a day. Or some set amount.
Rebecca says that her biggest obstacles to writing are material and quieting her mind so that she can write. Twitter and other social media platforms are the enemy to a quiet mind. I can relate to that! She says that she is a very slow writer because she is always searching for material. Not so much like a squirrel getting ready for winter. I picture it more like her doing a 1,000 piece puzzle. She culls the pieces that need to fit just so.
Have you read Liar and Spy yet? I really loved it. Rebecca uses Georges Seurat’s Pointellism as the metaphor that shapes the story.
In Stead’s chapter book, the dots are the stories of kids living in the same apartment building. There’s 7th grader Georges who has just moved in and attending a new school. Safer is the first friend he makes, a a twelve-year-old self-appointed spy who recruits Georges into investigating a mysterious neighbor.
Who is the Liar and who is the Spy? And when you stand back from the dots, what exactly do you see? Stead’s critics (perhaps only one annoying one) said that the story was subtle, perhaps too subtle. But is neo-impressionism too subtle? Not for the viewer who knows to look closely and then slowly back up and absorb the entire image.
Point by point. Dot by dot. Story by story. Liar and Spy does not disappoint.
Here is Rebecca reading from Liar and Spy.
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