How I Write: Jane Yolen
Published: February 15, 2001
|Jane Yolen, who began her career writing poetry and newspaper articles, has written more than 200 books for children and adults, including poetry, historical novels, nonfiction, fantasy, fairy tales, folk stories and science fiction.|
The New York Times called her "the Aesop of the 20th century." Her books and stories have won numerous awards, including the Caldecott Medal and the Nebula Award. In 1999 Yolen, who graduated from Smith College, received the school's Remarkable Women Award for her achievements. She also has a master's degree in education from the University of Massachusetts.
Credits: Lost Girls (Nebula Award for best novelette, 1998); The Young Merlin Trilogy: Passenger/Hobby/Merlin (Mythopoeic Society Award for children's novels, 1998); Briar Rose (Mythopoeic Society Award for best adult novel, 1992); Owl Moon (Caldecott, 1988); Favorite Folk Tales from Around the World (World Fantasy Award, 1987); The Girl Who Cried Flowers & Other Tales (The Golden Kite, 1974); The Emperor and the Kite (Caldecott Honor book, 1968).
Why: I can't stop writing. It's an obsession and a delight. My husband David says I will write anything, anywhere, any time. He means that I have rather too many publishers, that I do it for love but expect to be paid.
When and where: I have the entire attic made over into two rooms, both of which are mine. I call it the Aerie. I go there first thing in the morning, before tea, before shower, still in my nightgown, and start my writing day.
How: Up until five years ago, even my husband, a professor of computer science, couldn't woo me away from my beloved Selectric. But e-mail (and writing with my daughter and two sons) got me onto the computer. However, I long for the old typing days, for those manuscripts covered with scribbles. The archivist and the poet in me realizes what is lost.
Writer's block: I work on about a dozen things at once, so I never get writer's block. If I lose forward motion on one thing, I turn to another. Recently, I was stuck on a novel, and suddenly I discovered the middle for a picture book that had, until that moment, stopped dead in its tracks. Now, I'm missing the picture book's last scene, but the novel has heated up again.
Advice to writers: A writer has many successes: Each new word captured. Each completed sentence. Each rounded paragraph leading into the next. Each idea that sustains and then develops. Each character who, like a wayward adolescent, leaves home and finds a life. Each new metaphor that, like the exact error it is, somehow works. Each new book that ends--and so begins. Selling the piece is only an exclamation point, a spot of punctuation.
Jane Yolen's Web site.