An Idea Emerges

Friday, November 4, 2011

At 4:30 AM I wake up and think, I should I get up and write.  Instead I snuggle under the covers, nurturing sleepfulness by ticking off analogies author Larry Brooks uses in Story Engineering to convince aspiring writers to focus on structure.  Hollandaise sauce without butter . . . pilots who don’t use radar . . . bodies without hearts . . . baseball . . . kitchen tables . . . tool chests . . . PGA tours.  Ah, I’m almost asleep.

A galvanizing thought intrudes: I should write a biography about Dori Hillestad Butler.  Not a biography exactly, but rather a case study, a book about how Dori achieved publishing success.


Dori is a true friend and a good writer.  Despite E. B. White’s suggestions to the contrary in Charlotte’s Web, that combination pops up often.  At least it does among children’s writers, even in the Bunny-Eat-Bunny World of Olga Litowinsky.  Why?  Because of writers like Dori, writers who, while polishing their own skills, somehow carve out time to nurture all the emerging writers around them. Even among these special creatures, the nurturing writers, Dori is in a class by herself.  More on this later.

For now, here’s some info about Dori’s publishing success.  At 14 Dori spotted a gold seal on the cover of Joan Lowery Nixon’s novel The Kidnapping of Christina Lattimore. Inscribed on the seal were these words: “Winner, Edgar Award, Best Young Adult Mystery.” Dori hadn’t known mystery books could win awards and she began to fantasize: maybe someday she could win an Edgar.  On April 28, 2011 Dori’s fantasy materialized.  The Mystery Writers of America deemed her book The Buddy Files: The Case of the Lost Boy the Best Juvenile Mystery published in 2010.  When the book is reprinted, probably its new cover will have a gold seal.

How did Dori do that, make her dream come true?  That’s the question my book will answer.  It will be . . . a recipe . . . a blueprint . . . a roadmap–oops! Now I’m putting myself to sleep.  By exploring steps Dori took to realize her dream, I hope to help other writers take steps to realize their dreams, too.

But will Dori approve?  Will she like this idea?