Keep celebrating… and a note about drafts

Yesterday/today is the beginning of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and reflection, with extra emphasis on family and community for Muslims around the world. It is one of the aspects of Islam that I really appreciate and admire. BBC has some cool resources, if you’re interested.

Like most Americans, I was sadly ignorant about Islam for most of my life. This changed in 1999 when I was hired to research and write a book about Saudi Arabia for very young readers. I set about reading everything I could about Islam and talking to people about life in Saudi Arabia. The people at the Saudi Arabian embassy let me use their library, and I interviewed the wives of several Saudi diplomats to get a clearer picture about life for kids in their country. The editors of my book did a lot of chopping – I was not at all happy with the finished project. But the experience was valuable and enriching for me.

If you’ve never heard of her, I’d like you guys to look into the work of Rukhsana Khan, a gracious and gifted author who has written many books that touch on Islam. Teachers should be sure to visit her website – it has a wealth of info and links to Muslim resources.

One of the best things about America is that we are all free to choose our religion and worship in peace.

Today I have to get ready for this weekend’s conference in Colorado, and try to find my desk. Right now it is hiding under the six inches of paper that accumulated these last couple of weeks I’ve been hammering on my book.

I want to clear up a misunderstanding about my writing process. The draft I finished Monday was Draft #5. In some ways, it could be considered a first draft – it is the first draft that I consider good enough to show to other people, and there are elements that are rather different that the other four drafts. My novels seems to take 7 drafts. I thought for sure I could do this one in fewer, but my character had other ideas. I am still celebrating the fact that I got it done. Fifty tons off the shoulders makes it easier to walk around.

I also want to celebrate hearing from Max, who are corresponded with me a lot. He finally got to watch the SPEAK movie and this is what he wrote:

I just recently purchased the DVD version of Speak from Barnes and Noble. I took it home and watched it that night. I was very surprised. It did have a lot of differences from the book, but they were good differences. I loved this movie, even though it didn’t have the bathroom chatroom. At first, Steve Zahn didn’t seem like a likely person for Mr. Freeman, but he really pulled it off well. And the dramatic scenes were amazing. I also saw the behind-the-scenes. You looked great! I got through about 3/4 of the movie with the commentary on, but then I had to go out and eat dinner. I loved hearing you and the director’s opinions and little facts on everything. It was so awesome. I wrote a journal entry about what I want to be when I grow up for my texas history class (we have journals due every week). I told her I wanted to be a writer and mentioned your book. In her response, she said that she had read your book and that it was amazing. In my next journal entry, I wrote about the movie, and she was very excited. I am letting her borrow it. Thanks for doing such a great job with this book and giving the rights to make the movie.

Thanks, Max!! ( I would love to see what you get to study in Texas history. That sounds fascinating.)

36 Replies to “Keep celebrating… and a note about drafts”

  1. Oooh, it’s fascinating to read about your drafting process. I’m currently redrafting a novel and feeling a little lost, as I’ve never done successive drafts of anything before in my life. However, I’ve only just finished Draft #2 so I think I still have a rather long road ahead of me.

  2. Oooh, it’s fascinating to read about your drafting process. I’m currently redrafting a novel and feeling a little lost, as I’ve never done successive drafts of anything before in my life. However, I’ve only just finished Draft #2 so I think I still have a rather long road ahead of me.

    1. Not necessarily. Every writer and each book has its own process. What works for me might not be what works for you.

      And if you can find a way to write a good book in two drafts, I beg of you, let me know how you did it.

  3. Oooh, it’s fascinating to read about your drafting process. I’m currently redrafting a novel and feeling a little lost, as I’ve never done successive drafts of anything before in my life. However, I’ve only just finished Draft #2 so I think I still have a rather long road ahead of me.

  4. I am working on my story now and I am on #3. However, I am completely transforming the story since the first draft I wrote at twelve, the second at sixteen, and now I am twenty-three. I am re-typing the whole thing out and re-working the whole story since I have learned so much in college— and that’s where National Novel Writing Month comes in— check it out!
    http://www.nanowrimo.org/

    And thanks for the info on other religions. I think our country needs to become more culturally diverse and I am always glad to find people with sensitivity towards such topics that come under attack so easily without looking at the whole picture, rather than what the media tells us.

  5. I am working on my story now and I am on #3. However, I am completely transforming the story since the first draft I wrote at twelve, the second at sixteen, and now I am twenty-three. I am re-typing the whole thing out and re-working the whole story since I have learned so much in college— and that’s where National Novel Writing Month comes in— check it out!
    http://www.nanowrimo.org/

    And thanks for the info on other religions. I think our country needs to become more culturally diverse and I am always glad to find people with sensitivity towards such topics that come under attack so easily without looking at the whole picture, rather than what the media tells us.

    1. Nanowrimo is hopefully going to get me in gear to write a novel this year, too. I wrote a short story for a writing class this summer that is a story I’ve always wanted to do as a novel. Now that I have the basic plot out on paper, I think I can expand it during Nanowrimo. I’ve tried it a couple of times before, but without any success. This year will be different!

    2. Every year, I say I’m going to try that… but it scares me! But a friend and I are supposed to do it together this year… emotional support and all.

  6. I am working on my story now and I am on #3. However, I am completely transforming the story since the first draft I wrote at twelve, the second at sixteen, and now I am twenty-three. I am re-typing the whole thing out and re-working the whole story since I have learned so much in college— and that’s where National Novel Writing Month comes in— check it out!
    http://www.nanowrimo.org/

    And thanks for the info on other religions. I think our country needs to become more culturally diverse and I am always glad to find people with sensitivity towards such topics that come under attack so easily without looking at the whole picture, rather than what the media tells us.

  7. Not necessarily. Every writer and each book has its own process. What works for me might not be what works for you.

    And if you can find a way to write a good book in two drafts, I beg of you, let me know how you did it.

  8. Not necessarily. Every writer and each book has its own process. What works for me might not be what works for you.

    And if you can find a way to write a good book in two drafts, I beg of you, let me know how you did it.

  9. Nanowrimo is hopefully going to get me in gear to write a novel this year, too. I wrote a short story for a writing class this summer that is a story I’ve always wanted to do as a novel. Now that I have the basic plot out on paper, I think I can expand it during Nanowrimo. I’ve tried it a couple of times before, but without any success. This year will be different!

  10. Nanowrimo is hopefully going to get me in gear to write a novel this year, too. I wrote a short story for a writing class this summer that is a story I’ve always wanted to do as a novel. Now that I have the basic plot out on paper, I think I can expand it during Nanowrimo. I’ve tried it a couple of times before, but without any success. This year will be different!

  11. Every year, I say I’m going to try that… but it scares me! But a friend and I are supposed to do it together this year… emotional support and all.

  12. Every year, I say I’m going to try that… but it scares me! But a friend and I are supposed to do it together this year… emotional support and all.

  13. I’m doing nano this november too! I know it’s going to be a good experince for me to try and write a novel in a month-though i have done it before-just not 175 pages! I can finish a novel in about one to four months then theres the extra months of editing and rewriting…sigh…what a long process. But it’s worth it. My mom and I just rented Speak today-and Monster-In-Law-can’t wait to watch the movie!!!! I’m so excited!

    Talk to you later

    ~Tia~

  14. I’m doing nano this november too! I know it’s going to be a good experince for me to try and write a novel in a month-though i have done it before-just not 175 pages! I can finish a novel in about one to four months then theres the extra months of editing and rewriting…sigh…what a long process. But it’s worth it. My mom and I just rented Speak today-and Monster-In-Law-can’t wait to watch the movie!!!! I’m so excited!

    Talk to you later

    ~Tia~

  15. I’m doing nano this november too! I know it’s going to be a good experince for me to try and write a novel in a month-though i have done it before-just not 175 pages! I can finish a novel in about one to four months then theres the extra months of editing and rewriting…sigh…what a long process. But it’s worth it. My mom and I just rented Speak today-and Monster-In-Law-can’t wait to watch the movie!!!! I’m so excited!

    Talk to you later

    ~Tia~

  16. Dear Ms. Halse Anderson, My name is Allie. I wanted to email you and ask you a few questions, but I am terribly computer challenged and have no idea how, so this is going to have to work. First off I just wanted to say I love your books (Especially SPEAK). I was just wondering if you could give me any advice on getting stories published. I would love to have something I’ve written actually published, but I have no idea how to do it! Any help you could give me would be much appreciated. Thanx

  17. Dear Ms. Halse Anderson, My name is Allie. I wanted to email you and ask you a few questions, but I am terribly computer challenged and have no idea how, so this is going to have to work. First off I just wanted to say I love your books (Especially SPEAK). I was just wondering if you could give me any advice on getting stories published. I would love to have something I’ve written actually published, but I have no idea how to do it! Any help you could give me would be much appreciated. Thanx

  18. Dear Ms. Halse Anderson, My name is Allie. I wanted to email you and ask you a few questions, but I am terribly computer challenged and have no idea how, so this is going to have to work. First off I just wanted to say I love your books (Especially SPEAK). I was just wondering if you could give me any advice on getting stories published. I would love to have something I’ve written actually published, but I have no idea how to do it! Any help you could give me would be much appreciated. Thanx

  19. hey ha anyone heard of the movie Zathura? well, i just noticed something in the commercial. The person who plays the sister in it played Melinda in Speak!!!! YAAAAAAAAYYY! i wonder if anyone else noticed….
    BeatleGirl

  20. hey ha anyone heard of the movie Zathura? well, i just noticed something in the commercial. The person who plays the sister in it played Melinda in Speak!!!! YAAAAAAAAYYY! i wonder if anyone else noticed….
    BeatleGirl

  21. hey ha anyone heard of the movie Zathura? well, i just noticed something in the commercial. The person who plays the sister in it played Melinda in Speak!!!! YAAAAAAAAYYY! i wonder if anyone else noticed….
    BeatleGirl

Comments are closed.