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Writing Road Trip

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde

Travel-Sized

Some­thing that has always stuck with me from pio­neer tales is the images of the keep­sakes and oth­er non-man­da­­to­ry items pio­neer fam­i­lies often had to dis­card on the trail as the trip became hard­er and the oxen grew weary of pulling the over­loaded wag­ons. This is just one of the rea­sons on the very long list of why I would have made the world’s worst pio­neer — I can’t pack for a week­end with­out schlep­ping along half my house­hold goods.… more

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde

Possible Detours

Once, in one of my (not uncom­mon) moments of think­ing that I could no longer han­dle the finan­cial uncer­tain­ty of the children’s book writ­ing life, I read a book that pur­port­ed to match cre­ative peo­ple to poten­tial career pur­suits. I read the advice, filled out the quizzes, and final­ly received my assigned “type.” With great antic­i­pa­tion I turned to the sec­tion at the back of the book where pos­si­ble career paths were list­ed by type.… more

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde

Headlights

Recent­ly, I’ve been think­ing back on a time when my focus was riv­et­ed on help­ing to care for a fam­i­ly mem­ber who was deal­ing with seri­ous med­ical issues. It’s been stress­ful to have this large “life moment” dis­rupt my nor­mal rou­tine, but it also brings with it a cer­tain kind of clar­i­ty. It’s kind of like dri­ving at night on a coun­try road, when the only thing you see clear­ly is what is illu­mi­nat­ed by your head­light beams; you’re aware of the shad­owy shapes of oth­er objects flash­ing by along the road­side, but the illu­mi­nat­ed area in front of you is what gets your pri­ma­ry atten­tion.… more

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde

Watching for the Brown Truck

A few years back, I had one fright­en­ing week. I had my head down, work­ing hard, when I heard a com­mo­tion out­side. I got up to look out my front win­dow and saw the SWAT team march­ing towards my house, car­ry­ing guns and wear­ing bul­let-proof vests. Once the sound of the news heli­copters alert­ed me to turn on the TV, I found out what was going on: there had been a work­place shoot­ing in my nor­mal­ly qui­et neigh­bor­hood, and at first law enforce­ment thought the gun­man might be on the loose.… more

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde

Emergency Car Kit

When I was a kid grow­ing up in the north woods of Min­neso­ta, a group of my neigh­bor­hood friends had a “Chip­munk Fort.” It was con­struct­ed out of a pile of old fenc­ing mate­ri­als in my friend Paul’s back­yard; each kid had their own “house” in the fort. We spent some time col­lect­ing pret­ty rocks and odd­ly shaped sticks and soft clumps of moss to dec­o­rate our hous­es.… more

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde

Fake ID

Ask your young writ­ers to imag­ine a social media profile for their main char­ac­ter. What games do they play? Do they win? Do they cheat? What would their online profile say? Do they lie when they’re online, and if so, what about?

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde

In the Driver’s Seat

To be able to learn how to get some­where, I have to dri­ve the route myself. Rid­ing shot­gun doesn’t work if I’m try­ing to mem­o­rize the route; some­how the feel­ing of the nec­es­sary twists and turns has to seep up through the steer­ing wheel and into the pores of my hands for me to be able to reli­ably retain it.… more

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde

Traction

I try to deliv­er reg­u­lar advice you can use to aid and inspire your young writ­ers, but this week I’m lean­ing on the wis­dom of oth­ers. This is advice I’ve found help­ful those times it feels like my writ­ing wheels are stuck in deep mud and spin­ning wild­ly and I’ll nev­er gain trac­tion again. Here, from a vari­ety of astute advi­sors, are the best tac­tics for when you’re stuck as a writer: BIC” —children’s writer extra­or­di­naire Jane Yolen Expla­na­tion: Short for “Butt‚ In Chair,” which means put your back end on a seat­ing device, in front of the key­board, or note­book and pen­cil, and write — whether you think you can do it today or not.… more

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde

Signs, Signs, Everywhere There’s Signs

When I was a young teenag­er my fam­i­ly made a road trip from Min­neso­ta to Texas to vis­it my father’s par­ents. The long trip south most­ly fea­tured one kind of civ­il war: the end­less bick­er­ing of my two broth­ers and the male cousin who’d come along for the ride. For the trip back north, I staked out a hidey-hole in the far back of the sta­tion wag­on and crammed myself in amongst the lug­gage, still-wet-from-the-hotel-pool swim­suits, and snack foods.… more

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde

That’s How I Roll

As a kid I was the one who insti­gat­ed a lot of the fun. It might be play­ing pirates in the tree house, or cops and rob­bers in my mom’s parked sta­tion wag­on, or spies who wrote secret code in lemon juice (lat­er reveal­ing the mes­sage by hold­ing it over the toast­er). Often our make believe reflect­ed what­ev­er sec­tion of the library I hap­pened to be work­ing my way through at the time.… more

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde

Tuned in to Talk Radio

When I was a lit­tle girl and my Min­neso­ta grand­par­ents came to vis­it, we shared them around for sleep­ing pur­pos­es. One night I would share my dou­ble bed with Grand­ma, and the next night my broth­er and I would switch places, and I’d sleep on his top bunk while Grand­pa set­tled into the bot­tom bunk. Grand­ma was a bit of a night owl like I am, so it was nev­er hard to keep her talk­ing.… more

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde

That Time I Drove the Karma Bus

All fresh­men at my col­lege had to wear bean­ies at the start of school. Besides the obvi­ous fash­ion quandary, the prob­lem was that stu­dents from the town’s rival col­lege glo­ried in steal­ing bean­ies. And I knew if any of my upper class­mates caught me sans beanie, they had the pow­er to make me stand on a table in the cafe­te­ria and sing my high school fight song.… more