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A Blog Post About Authors, by Kevin Henkes

In the last couple of months, I started telling my two-year-old son the names of the authors and illustrators behind the books we read. I want him to understand the notion of authorship, that stories don’t just appear out of thin air. Well…

One of Noah’s favorite books this summer has been Kitten’s First Full Moon, by Kevin Henkes, and, as we’ve read it many times, Noah seems to have come to the conclusion that Kevin Henkes is the author responsible for all stories in existence.

NOAH: “Dr. Seuss book, by Kevin Henkes!”

ME: “No, Noah. Dr. Seuss writes Dr. Seuss’s books. Kevin Henkes writes Kevin Henkes’s books.”

NOAH: (more enthusiastically) “Dr. Seuss book by Kevin Henkes!”

Now the problem is that Noah realizes how funny we think he is when he ascribes universal authorship to Kevin Henkes, and he knows how to play to his audience. Recently, at the end of an impromptu rendition of “London Bridge Is Falling Down,” Noah closed as follows:

NOAH: “London Bridge is falling down, my fair lady… by Kevin Henkes.”

I’d like to think that our repeated corrections are starting to have their impact, and Noah is starting to figure out that there are other writers beyond Mr. Henkes. Just yesterday, I was reading him the story Knufflebunny, by Mo Willems, an author whose various books we have enjoyed numerous times.

ME: “Knufflebunny, by Mo Willems.”

NOAH: “Mo…Willems.”

ME: (excitedly) “That’s right, honey, Mo Willems. We read a lot of books by Mo Willems. We like him a lot.”

NOAH: “Mo Willems… by Kevin Henkes!”

The latest…

It has been a period of transition for me. I’ve been laid up for much of this summer, recovering from foot surgery, and I decided to use this time to take a break from my screenwriting and pursue some smaller projects. This was something I think I needed to do for my mental health, but it has proven to be quite creatively stimulating as well. I’m working on a couple children’s books now, and I’ve also been writing some songs, something I had never done before (at least not in a non-collaborative way).

These two mediums actually seem to me like two sides of the same coin: both are rhythmic, highly structured, minimalist forms of storytelling–and I’ve been having fun playing in this world. I know the songwriting will not advance beyond the status of “hobby” for me, but I must say that I am finding the children’s book writing to be a natural fit. And while I certainly intend to return to a larger story in the not too distant future (novel or screenplay), I definitely want to continue pursuing these kid’s books. At least as long as the new ideas keep popping up.

But then, I’m getting ahead of myself. I shouldn’t write too much at this stage of the game. More of my story to come as it is written…

Scriptnotes Raiders Podcast

For 77 episodes now I’ve been a big fan of John August and Craig Mazin’s Scriptnotes podcast.  While the intended audience is screenwriters, I think creative writers in any medium (and anyone in the film industry) can benefit from being regular listeners.  I’m posting a link here to a show they did a few weeks ago where they deconstruct Raiders Of the Lost Ark.  Their analysis (which Lawrence Kasdan, writer of said film, claimed was “the best analysis I’ve ever seen by a power of ten”) will change the way you think about the movie.  Worth a listen (click here).

Why I don’t blog much these days…

My little man is now seven months old.  He’s been keeping me very happy and very busy.  I’ve been trying to squeeze all my writing into nap times and post-bedtime at night, and this has not left any time for blogging.  I’m sure I’ll return to blogging again, most likely when the politics of the moment make it impossible for me to keep my mouth shut–but for now it is just not a priority.

Here are some more pictures of what we’ve been up to lately.

A Light At The End of the Tunnel

After three weeks of teaching summer school classes, I find myself in the home stretch.  Only one week to go before my true vacation begins.

Things have been good lately–but crazy.  I’ve started looking for representation for my latest screenplay, spreading the word to my acquaintances, sending the script to whoever I can, and … so far so good.  This process may take a while, but I’ve been getting good feedback from everyone who reads the script and I’m very optimistic.

No big news on the book, although this documentary has been an interesting process.  And I should have a fun day on Sunday, going to a friend’s book club.  I’ll certainly let everyone know when there’s more news to be had.

No more time to chat, but I promise to write more soon.