Almost exactly a year ago, after finishing four books I’d sold on proposal, I decided I needed to go back to writing alone. I needed to work at my own pace, however slow that was. I needed to write weird, if that was what came. I needed to get back to feeling like I felt as a kid, and a poet– just a girl playing with words. Flying blind.

I promised myself I wouldn’t even show my agent.

And then I spent 6 months outlining, and staring at the ceiling. I watercolored characters and setting. I wrote the first few chapters with a mechanical pencil, on a yellow legal pad. I played. And eventually, I hit my stride.

Well… last week I typed the words THE END, and took a week away. Then, today I read my rough draft of The Orphan Island, and I LIKE IT. A LOT!

Weird it is!   It’s too short, and it straddles the MG/YA line in a funny way. It’s got a kind of slight magic that people may be bored by. It’s full of fish guts and fig-drying and bee hives and sand. It ends with a kind of cliffhanger, to an equally weird sequel, a book that may or may not be called The Wordless World.

But I’m proud of the work I’ve done. And I’m proud that I did it without a net. It’s good to know I can still write just for me, alone.

So there’s that.


PS: I feel the need to add that I’ve loved every bit of the collaborative experiences I’ve had with my last books, and wouldn’t change a thing! I just… needed to work all by myself for a little while. Figure out what I’d write if I were alone on a (figurative) desert island.

The punchline? I wrote about a desert island.

5 Responses to “THE ORPHAN ISLAND…”

  1. Dawn Kepler Says:

    Good for you, Laurel! Just fyi, I’ll read it because you already have me curious.

  2. Evelyn Krieger Says:

    Goes along with your message to kids about time for boredom, although your island story sounds anything but boring.

  3. maureen judge Says:

    My class has a question for you: What are plomms? My class decided this word is spelled incorrectly and should be plums…can you tell us if this is true?

  4. laurel Says:

    Nope, not a spelling error! A plomm is like a cross between a peach and a melon. Like a BIG stone fruit, with a fuzzy skin.

    Some of the words on the island have evolved, some have been replaced, and some things have been misnamed. Because the kids have limited access to vocabulary, and nobody to correct them.

  5. Emilia Says:

    I loved it will there be a second one?

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