Ron asks about our ambition in the post below. I've certainly had many works Karl me--When You Reach Me was the latest, and perhaps the most devastating. Speak is another. Holes. The Wednesday Wars. Robin McKinley's Spindle's End. My work is not the Karl-ing sort, I don't think. But sometimes when I close a book I am filled with the need to write, to add to the well of stories that produced this one. I would love to leave people with that feeling.
I've been watching the Olympics rather obsessively. Short track skater Apolo Ono--geriatric at 27, apparently--decided to come back this time for one more hurrah. He had to get himself in mental and physical shape again after long revels with Bacchus (and reality TV), and he said when he was training he asked himself every day, "Did I do everything I could do today to be the best?"
So I'm thinking about that. About the things I can do to be better. About good work, and the good things it produces. All that leads me to the inevitable conclusion that I need to do exercises in poetry. I'm no good at poetry. I don't have the patience or precision. But I have a book--In the Palm of Your Hands. It has exercises. It looms on my shelf. I eye it warily, like an unpaid bill.
"Did I do everything I could do today to be my best?" It's hard--there are sick toddlers to care for and calls to the insurance company to be made and taxes to procrastinate doing. But I'm thinking it's time to crack open that book.
On another note, back to first sentences, Kate Coombs at Book Aunt has a post on MT Anderson's.