Bridget Magee Author PictureIt’s always a special treat when I get to introduce someone for the Tuesday 12 x 12 series whom I’ve met in person. I had the extreme good fortune of meeting Bridget Magee last May at the Highlights Foundation Poetry for All workshop. I’ll tell you something. I was terrified to attend that workshop. I do not consider myself a poet by any definition, but as a picture book writer (and even a rhymer), I set the goal of learning more about how to use the principles of poetry in what is obviously a spare form of writing.

I was lucky enough to sit at Bridget’s table the first evening at dinner, when I arrived wide-eyed and with heart beating like a jackrabbit. Since she joined 12 x 12, I assume she’s forgiven me for steering the conversation into what is more comfortable ground for me – picture books. But I’ll tell you another thing. After hearing and reading her work over the course of four days, I can tell you her poems are astounding. So I’m honored to host her today. Please welcome Bridget! P.S. Personally, I think Smidgey needs his own story! 🙂

I am thankful for 12×12.  The feeling of community, the generosity of spirit, and the opportunities to share successes and struggles have been invaluable.  But I am most thankful for 12×12 because it has reconnected me with old friends.  These old friends spoke to me in the middle of the night.  They came into being as I showered.  I brought them into being, but over time I stopped playing with them.  These old friends are the characters in my 20+ picture book drafts that wait on my computer, and on paper in my desk.

I met most of these friends during my MFA program.  Each one has a special place in my heart, and with the help of 12×12 they will get the attention and nurturing they deserve.  Some may stay at home, living on my computer indefinitely.  Some will flourish and grow to the point that they will go out into the world and live in the hearts of  young readers.  But all will get the love they deserve.

Because of 12×12, I started 2013 by visiting Spike.  I hadn’t seen that brute of a dog in years, but I loved him and I wanted to see if I could clean him up and make him presentable.  Spike was all growls and grit until a new gerbil, Squeakers, moved in. Poor Spike had lain nervously in my desk drawer waiting for me to visit him and give his story a fresh perspective.  He was waiting for me to make his conflict – large dog vs. innocuous gerbil – more dramatic, with fewer words.  Through the First 250 Words section on the Membership Forum, both Spike and I receive valuable feedback and encouragement to overcome our fears and revise.  Both of us are stronger for it.

In February, I checked on little Miss Mimi, the toddler who demanded a pet.  She hadn’t changed a bit since languishing on my hard drive for the last few years.  She was still loud, still demanding, and she still couldn’t make up her mind.  But I made her mind up for her, when I reexamined her story with a fresh perspective.  Clearer words, tighter story, and stronger verbs have given Mimi the kind of voice she needs to get published.

March will reintroduce me to in another old friend.  Will it be Stuart, the clumsy boy who only wants to create?  Or Moe who never did listen to his mother?  I’m not sure, but I do know that each month for the rest of the year (and beyond) I will be spending time with old friends, thanks to 12×12.

Bridget Magee has plenty of old friends, but does not consider herself old.  She is a former Elementary Teacher and School Librarian.  She has her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University where she focused on picture books and poetry.  Since 1/1/2011, she has maintained a Poem-A-Day blog at www.weewordsforweeones.blogspot.com.   Bridget has won various awards for her poetry through the Arizona State Poetry Society and has a Poem of the Month feature in the East Tucson Macaroni Kid E-Newsletter Publication.  She also writes articles for adults about family life and adoption.  And she is learning to be a public speaker with the hopes of being a professional speaker about children’s literature, adoption, and family. A self described picture book junky, Bridget, when not writing, can be found reading.  She lives in Tucson, AZ with her husband, Joe, daughters, Colleen and Maureen, and crazy dog, Smidgey. 

Writer. Poet. Speaker. Mom. 

Categories: 12 x 12, Authors, Creativity, Friendship, Goals, Guest Blogging, Picture Books, Poetry, Rhyming, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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35 Comments

  1. Bridget, wonderful post. I’m glad you are bringing your old pals out to get them all dressed up so the world can love them too. I am NOT a poet, but like Julie I want to learn as much as I can about it. I have a rhyming picture book as I suppose most of the 12 x 12er’s might have. Good luck to you. And to us all! Happy Purple Day. (Please wear purple everyone to support those with epilepsy.) Our family will.

    • Hi Robyn! Thanks for reading my post and commenting. It’s funny, I write poetry – some of which rhymes, (not all of which is good rhyme) but I have no rhyming picture books. I just realized that! Maybe one of my revisions this year will end up in rhyme. Happy Purple Day to you, too!

  2. Penny Klostermann

    Your old friend/characters sound as if they are ready to be in the world. Good luck with bringing them up to speed. I absolutely love rhyming and am learning more about poetry. Attending a Highlights workshop is a dream of mine. I’m so glad you and Julie were able to meet and get to know one another. How special and fun!

    • Hi Penny, thanks for your vote of confidence on my old friends/characters. Some are bursting to be played with while others will enjoy a life of solitude on my hard drive. =) I highly recommend any of the Highlights workshops – they are all well worth the money (and scholarships are available).
      Yes, I feel very lucky to have met Julie – what a talent!

  3. Beautiful post Bridget, I am envious of your wonderful friends and want some of my own.
    I am not a poet by any means and I am continually trying to learn more – hence joining 12×12 – pleased to be on the journey with you and I look forward to meeting your friends each month.

    • Thank you, Jacque! I’m still in the learner curve phase of being a poet, but I love to read poetry and try my hand at it everyday – with varying levels of success. =)
      I am happy to be on this 12×12 journey with you as well.

  4. Old friends. I love that. I bet they’re happy to see the light of day again. I hope they behave…. or not. Have fun.

    • Thank you, Genevieve! Some of my manuscript friends are very cooperative, but others will live a life of solitude on my hard drive because I just can’t figure them out. But as they say, you learn something from every relationship (even ones with our characters :-). Hope you are having fun, too!

  5. Love the idea of old friends too. Will check out you blog as you as a finish posting my comment. A poem a day – is so impressive. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you Rosanne for reading my post and commenting – and for checking out my blog. A poem a day is a good exercise in perseverance, but I know not all of the poems are stellar. =)
      Some of my poems stay in draft form in the blog archives so I can submit them to magazines/anthologies/contest otherwise they are considered “published” if they are on my personal blog.

  6. Love this post, Bridget. It reminds me there is an envelope full of writings from a teenaged girl sitting in my hope chest waiting to be explored. Enjoy visiting your old friends.

    • Thank you C. C. for reading my post and commenting! I love that image “a teenaged girl sitting in my hope chest waiting to be explored” – exactly how it feels to unearth old manuscripts!

  7. Bridget, polishing those characters is fun…in my case they are often stories told (not written down dutifully) from tales to children. Some have survived my memory, some not…too sad those are lost forever. Thus the value of 12×12, when I get these characters on paper (or pixels) and later can revive them, polish them up.
    Loved your post, and will check out your blog for sure. Poem a day is awesome discipline!

    • Thank you Damon for reading my post and commenting! I welcome you as a regular visitor on my blog. I’m glad some of your stories have made it to paper (or pixels) and for those that are lost from your memory, maybe they will show up in another form in another story. =)

  8. Lovely to hear more about you, Bridget. Your old friends sound lots of fun. I enjoy reading reading your poems every day.

    • Thank you, Catherine! So good to “see” friends from other areas of the kid lit world on 12×12! Thanks for reading my poems – I enjoy your visits to my blog. =)

  9. Free them, Bridget. Free them all! Great to get to know you!

  10. Hello Bridget!
    It’s lovely to meet you via 12×12! Thanks so much for sharing some of your writing journey.:)
    Your ‘friends’ sound delightful…I look forward to meeting them on the forum and in bookstores one day.:)

  11. I love the way you regard your characters as old friends that need to be revisited and refreshed! Great post, thanks for sharing.

  12. I’m so glad that you’re able to renew and rekindle old friendships with your characters! Perhaps 12×12 will connect them with editors…and then the whole world can meet your friends too. 🙂

    • Thank you, Teresa! I hope my ‘old friends’ will meet an editor or two, but I’m just glad that in these 3 months I’ve been able to spend some quality time with them – and hopefully make them better.
      I like the ‘new’ friends I’m making on 12×12, too! Such support!

  13. Wonderful post, Bridget…you speak so well to how 12 x 12 gently insists we revisit those to-be-polished files of works full of “friends”…Thanks for sharing this!

    • Thank you, Carol! 12×12 is life changing…for me and my ‘friends’! It’s been fun trying to find the right “polish” for each manuscript – feedback from other 12×12’ers has helped tremendously. 🙂

  14. Nice to “meet” you here, Bridget! Your confidence shines through your words making me believe your old “friends” will be out in the world soon.

  15. Delighted to meet you here, Bridget, and so delighted that 12×12 is helping you reconnect with those “old friends” — what a wonderful way to think of those characters. May many of them find friends in the larger world!

    • Thank you, Beth! I love reconnecting with my ‘old’ friends, but I also love connecting with ‘new’ ones because of 12×12…like you! I hope my characters make their way into the “larger world” and into readers’ hearts. It’s what we all hope for, isn’t it?

  16. Lovely to meet you, Bridget. Your old friends, sound delightful and I hope we all get to meet them. I am sure many eager fingers will enjoy turning the pages and relish amazing adventures your characters take them on.

    • Thank you, ‘Patient Dreamer’ – what a lovely moniker! I’ve been having fun reconnecting with these “friends” and I hope you are right, that “many eager fingers” will join them on their adventures. Thanks for reading my post and commenting. =)

  17. Seems like many can relate to friends that dutifully await in a computer, and on paper to make that jump out into the “real” world. Wishing that happens for you very soon. Admire your poetry skills! What a gift.

  18. Thank you SO much, Carmela! My ‘friends’ have each taught me so much – and some would love to get out into the ‘real’ world. Your poetry compliment made me smile and means so much to me…I love poetry, but I still feel like I am just a beginner despite writing a poem a day for so long. =)

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