Learning to Write with Hope

Two weekends ago, Paula Morrow and I taught at the Highlights Foundation “Barn” on the subject of “Sharing Our Hope: Writing for Religious and Inspirational Markets.” It was a weekend to remember.

(If you want to skip down to the photos, below are eleven more photos I thought you might enjoy seeing of the grounds and the people who attended. I took most of them, but some were taken by Paula or Vijaya Bodach.) Five additional blog posts with photos by attendee Vijaya Bodach can be found here. And Deanna Barnes wrote about her experience here.

Why a Workshop on Writing with Hope?

Growing up today is tough. Many kids live in homes where their needs don’t get met. Sometimes they don’t feel safe either at home or at school—places we used to take for granted as “safe havens.” It has become a scary, unsettling world for children.

As author Barbara Steiner once said, “Writing for children is the toughest of all writing because children’s books change lives… Kids take stories to heart, believe them, and reread them if they have touched their spirits.”

One of the best things writers can give children through their writing is a sense of hope. Madeleine L’Engle, Newbery Award winner, once said:

“We don’t want to feel LESS when we have finished a book; we want to feel that new possibilities of being have been opened to us. We don’t want to close a book with a sense that life is totally unfair and that there is no light in the darkness; we want to feel that we have been given illumination.”

My part of the workshop included 4 sessions about:

  • learning how to write strong characters who are believable and multifaceted, yet flawed enough for kids to identify with;
  • self-care for writers, which included sessions on being your own self-coach, boundaries for writers, and dealing with serious things (health issues, marriage issues, child issues, money issues) while continuing to write;
  • learning how to infuse tension into your characters, plot, settings, and dialogue;
  • exploring inspirational market guides, plus books especially for inspirational writers

Everyone stays in his/her own cabin, at least when the workshops are limited to small numbers. Below are a couple of shots of my cabin…then some food photos…then a few pictures of the wonderful group of women who attended the workshop. Enjoy!



















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4 Responses to Learning to Write with Hope

  1. Vijaya says:

    Oh, Kristi, how fun to remember it all over again … I think hope is the one essential ingredient in children’s literature. Even the darkest story has to end with hope. Thank you so much sharing so much of the craft and heart of it. Paula too. You made a great team.

    • kwpadmin says:

      Vijaya, I totally agree about all of it! I love remembering the weekend over and over. I also believe hope is one essential ingredient for kids. And yes, Paula was the best team member!

  2. Julia says:

    Kristi, I came away from this workshop more energetic and motivated than I have been in a long time. Since returning from the workshop, I have been paying more attention to self care, most notably in the area of consistent exercise, and I have been more determined to explore publishing opportunties. I think my new energy is largely attributed to spending time with like-minded writers.

    • kwpadmin says:

      Julia, good to hear from you! I totally believe you about the “like-minded writers” giving you energy. Even though I came home physically tired from teaching, I, too, have been much better at self-care. There’s just something about keeping company with kindred souls. :-)

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