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Speech Writing

2011 February 15
by prgiff

It’s the time of the year when children’s book writers crisscross the country, talking to teachers, librarians, and school children.
I do some crisscrossing, too. And before I do, I tell myself, I’d better know what I’m talking about; I’d better prepare.
Spread around me, this morning, are boxes of essays I’ve cut out of newspapers, letters I’ve loved from the kids, quotations, ideas scribbled on the backs of envelopes, and old speeches. It’s daunting to go through all of it searching for nuggets to talk about. I get caught up reading Andy Rooney’s talks, I pull out the books that go with my scribbles, Celtic Fairy Tales, Harriet Arnow’s THE DOLLMAKER, for example, and I’m lost, caught up in other worlds and forget about speech writing.
One of these days, I’m going to swoop up all my notes, throw them away, and start over.
Can I really imagine doing that?
But here’s something from A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN. (I must have read it a dozen times; I imagined myself as Francey Nolen as a young girl. I would have loved knowing Betty Smith.) Francey’s mother tells her mother:”…I do not want this child to grow up just to work hard. …What must I do to make a different world for her?”
And the answer speaks to me: “You must tell the fairfy tales of the old country. You must tell of those not of the earth who live forever in the hearts of people—fairies, elves, dwarfs and such…. Because the child must have a valuable thing which is called imagination. The child must have a secret world in which live things that never were. She must start out by believing in things not of this world. Then when the world becomes too ugly for living in, the child can reach back and live in her imagination.”
More, I think of all the books, all the stories…my family stories, for example, stories that have been added to and changed a little as the years go on, stories that connect me to the past and help me write.
I think of all the new things that have been added to the world since I was a child—huge breakthroughs in the medical field, in space exploration, in the comfort of our everyday living. And all of it began with someone’s imagining those possibilities.
So there’s the beginning of my talk next week. How valuable that thing called imagination is. It’s something to be encouraged, fostered. But how lovely it is that somehow children find the time to imagine, no matter where they are, no matter how they’re scheduled.

2 Responses leave one →
  1. Kelly Inman permalink
    February 15, 2011

    Hi Pat,
    I have truly been enjoying your blog so much! I check in and read regulary. Since I have heard you speak at conferences and in class, I “hear” your voice when I am reading your entries! It is always comforting and inspiring. I am writing today because you mention preparing a speech for an upcoming event. Will you consider posting your upcoming appearances on your blog? I know you have given talks at local libraries and universities. I would love to attend if I only knew about them in advance! (Not the ones that are meant for a limited or specific audience, such as school or student visits and such, of course.)Anyway, thank you for your wonderful blog entries. I love to “visit”. Reading your blog brightens my day, inspires me, sometimes helps me to remember why I am a teacher! Mostly reading your writing reminds me of how much I admire you as a writer. Thanks for starting the blog, Pat. Your words touch people in positive ways! I hope you have a great day…happy writing!

  2. Wendy Lamb permalink
    March 21, 2011

    Hi Pat! I would love to read your speech about children and imagination. I know you’ll inspire me!
    And I want to hear all about the conference.

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