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Welcome Friends! Here is a place for teachers, parents, librarians and writers to learn what's going on in the world of book author Karma Wilson.

Keeping an open mind….

When I do school visits, something I like to tell the kids is that they need to keep their mind open so ideas are free to fall inside.  As a writer, especially as a writer for children, it’s very important to be open to suggestion. And a suggestion might show up anywhere. Keeping an open mind isn’t something that just happens, it is something we achieve by stimulating the mind.  When doing so we pry our heads open so they are ready to receive and formulate ideas. 

A few months back I learned this lesson all over again. I watched the movie Ms. Potter with my daughter (love that unintentional rhyme). Renee Zellweger is one of my favorite actresses, and in my opinion she really did shine in this movie. Being a compulsive researcher, as soon as the movie ended I googled Beatrix Potter to see what I might discover.  I came across an online auction for some original letters penned by Beatrix herself. 

Beatrix is rumored to have answered all fan mail diligently.  One of these auctioned letters was in response to a young fan. In the letter she mentioned that another fan had asked her to write a book about a crocodile named Amelia. Beatrix quipped, “….a crocodile named Amelia, that I cannot stand!”  The line literally jumped off the page at me!  It would be the perfect basis for verse–and had natural rhythm and flow.  And so the poem “When Naming Crocodiles” was born.  It is one in a collection of poems for children I’m currently writing. 

Beatrix Potter letter

A scanned copy of the letter by Beatrix Potter.

When I think about it, I’m not at all surprised that my mind was primed for discovery.  Learning about Beatrix Potter had me excited about my craft. I was delving into a previously undiscovered world–the world of Beatrix Potter.  The language in her letters was so refreshingly proper without being at all stuffy.  She possessed a very understated, droll sense of humor. Almost every sentence had me smiling in admiration. Here I had someone to live up to!  (Not that I’m comparing myself to Ms. Potter. I would never. But in any endeavor we must have role models we aspire to.)

So remember, work to keep your mind open. When I say this, I picture the top of my head as a hinged lid–the lid is open, and ideas are pouring in.  One of the best ways I’ve found to force open the mind is to get excited about your craft.  Study something, anything, that interests you.  Who are the writers or artists you admire?  Look them up. Read letters by them, biographies about them, or articles and essays they have written.  If they are an artist, study their paintings and sketches.  If it’s on record, try to find what the inspiration for the art was.  I’ve found that my very best ideas are often not entirely my own. In searching out inspiration you may well find a gift you did not expect–like crocodiles named anything but Amelia.

K…