PART I: 5 A Poem Is… My Credo. A Fluffer. A Fluffer-Nutter. A Summer Sparkler. The Mouth of a Gift HorsePART II: 16 Critiques/Comments for Others Critiques/Comments from Others Personal PhilosophyPART III: 27 Author’s Note Biographical Information on Author Blurbs
A Poem Is…A poem is a pool of water,waiting in calmfor the first toe dip, swan dive, or cannon ballto proclaim its space.It ebbs and flows to heighten emotion,and to dunk unsuspecting passersby.Lines and syllables work togetherlike the oversized women floating by on innertubes.As rough and ragged as the water becomes,it returns to silence once we drip-dry.
Reflection on “A Poem Is…”This poem was designed from an assignment asking us to discusspoetry as akin to an unlikely object. For me, I turned to a body ofwater. As a Floridian, the most common source of our recreationstems from the pool – either in the backyard, at the clubhouse, ornear a tourist trap. I believe that poetry is just as promising as anuntouched pool on a hot summer’s day. If you’re willing to forgeteverything else and dive on in, you’ll come out refreshed and revived.Of course, there are days when the pool water is just as hot as theair around it, leaving you more tired and cranky than before you hadplunged in. Much is the same with poetry and how some days thewords seem to flow without any trouble, yet, in other instances, thetrial of writing leaves you more confused than ever.
My Credo.I believe in the splendor of pixie dust,And the joy that swirls around the cocoa mug on Christmas Eve.I believe in the giggles and honest nature of children,And the happiness found within a tire swing.I believe that everyone should think positively about anything,And be willing to sacrifice everything to hold onto that optimism.I believe in baby pink tutus, gold encrusted tiaras,And the power hidden inside a pair of toe shoes.I believe in the healing power of Band-AidsAnd boo-boos that are sealed with a kiss.I believe that every Sunday should begin with a syrup-drenchedwaffle,And end hidden in the bubbles of a porcelain bathtub. I believe in the immediate gratification of Skittles, Starbursts,and Snickers bars. I believe that silliness is a crucial ingredient to an excellent life. I believe in love,And all of the hurt and miscommunication that comes with it. I believe that family comes first. I believe that reading can take you anywhere. I believe, most importantly, that we should make every day worth living.
Reflection on “My Credo.”As the very first workshop assignment for class, “My Credo.” offeredan excellent opportunity to let my classmates know who I was. Incollege, I was told by my Creative Writing professor that I seemed towrite in lists. I loved details and adjectives and words that conjuredup specific images for my reader. “My Credo.” was the very perfectoutlet for this type of writing, as it gave just the right amount ofspace to add a flourish of details, while only admitting very specificfeatures of my personality.
A Fluffer. A Fluffer-Nutter.To make the perfect peanut butter fluff sandwich,You must first pick the perfect bread No butt pieces, please. No crusty multigrain. No healthy wheat.Wonder Bread works best. Or maybe that Texas Toast at 7,000 calories a slice.Once your bread is in hand,carefully drop it onto your favorite ceramic plate. No Mickey Mouse heads, please. No grandma florals. No pukey brown.Plates with your names are the way to go. The onesthat have “Katie” dancing around the rim.Uncap your peanut butter and dip in your knife(sharp end first).Make sure to get a good gob on the lever and spread, spread, spread.But only on one piece!Throw that knife in the sink for Mom to get later.Time for fluff.Grab another sharp one.Uncap your fluff and dip in your knife(by now you know the drill).Gob it up and SPREAD.Plunk the slices togetherand divide it diagonallyfor the World’s BESTFlufferNutter Extraordinaire.
Reflection on “A Fluffer. A Fluffer-Nutter.”This particular poem was written in order to give the steps to acommon activity. As a child, I used to love Marshmallow Fluff, butcannot seem to find a taste for it now. For this reason, I havealways thought of “Fluffer-Nutters” as a child-specific food. Itseemed like the perfect recipe to turn into a poem. If you follow thesteps, you will, in fact, create a delicious sandwich, but you mightalso have some fun with the word play throughout the piece.
A Summer Sparkler.The bright yellow and orange shone above my fistAs I danced the blazing sparkler through the air.I could write whatever I wanted,And, for one quick second, it stayed frozen in place.Even if you closed your eyes,You could see the giant “K” for my name.My purple scooter sat propped against the backyard gate.Barbie’s face was plastered on the wheels,Which told the world that it was meant for a girl.My Mom and Dad were so happy,They clanked their glasses together in celebrationOf the start of a new summer.My baby sister was already asleep in her swing,But she stayed outsideTo enjoy the cool weather and early-forming dew.Both of my brothers swung high on the playset,And kicked the air as it passed underneath their bottoms.They giggled and teased one anotherAs they went up! up! up! into the sky.I knew it wouldn’t be summer forever.But, for that night,My firework kept on sparkling.
Reflection on “A Summer Sparkler.”“A Summer Sparkler.” was written as a child-centric poem, and onewith which children could, hopefully, relate. I tried to focus on thefeatures of a summer’s evening and how I remembered them frommy own past. Sparklers were always present when the sky turneddark and the sun went away, so I thought they would provide anexcellent set-up for this piece. For most children, the summer is atime when household rules are not as strongly enforced and they arefree to play and enjoy themselves. My narrator is here is certainlyhaving fun, but I am hopeful that there is a “wise” side to her, aswell – as if she knows something else is on the horizon.
The Mouth of a Gift HorseThe pony held my present in between its teeth.I wasn’t meant to look at it –Or him.Maybe becausehe had slobberedall over the “Happy Birthday” wrapping.The painted candles seemed to melt,and the stench of equine drool,made me want to gag.I wasn’t even sure I wanted the gift that had been so mutilatedand destroyed.It could be a new baby doll…Or a SpongeBob!Or even the newest Nintendo DS!…but it had already been ruined.Stupid horse.
Reflection on “The Mouth of a Gift Horse”Perhaps one of the silliest poems I have written to date, “The Mouthof a Gift Horse” was a very interesting exercise for me. We wereasked to take a commonly spoken phrase or idiom and turn it into apoem – without ever specifically mentioning the phrase itself. Ialways hated the saying, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” – andI believe it can be one of the most confusing ideas for children tounderstand. So then, why not picture an actual horse holding a giftand then seeing what happens?
Critiques/Comments for Others I. Workshop 2.5 to Lindsay Bayer Lindsay, What a fantastic twist on an old favorite! I KNOW my students would enjoy a book like this because of the fun repetition and the delight in a well-known tale. I love how Molly had to use her imagination to enter the world of the bears AND to enhance their own environment while she was there. I really enjoyed your work, but I do have a question (or two). I wonder how your story would look if we ONLY heard from Mollys perspective. For example, you currently have dialogue while she is hiding along upstairs as the Bears arrive home. Would it be possible (or fun, even?) to consider dropping out the sections of dialogue that Molly would be too far away to hear? I think it would add some suspense as the bears open their arms and bare their teeth at Molly. The reader wouldnt know what to think! - Until the Bears explain their love of the cakes and decorations. Great work, Lindsay! I thoroughly enjoyed your tale! :) - Katie Hoeg II. Workshop 8.9 to Laura D’Aveta Hey Laura, Awesome work! I am loving your story with Ellie and I am really interested in how her thoughts and details have fleshed out. Ellie is fascinating to me and I become so intrigued with her past. Who is she? Why is she important? What is her full
relationship with Devlin? All of these questions are fantastic -particularly in how they keep me so engaged in the tale!Do you think it would be possible to slow down your writing abit in order to better handle your reader? I ask, because, I amso intrigued with Ellie and I want to know so much about her,but I feel the pace of your story is moving too quickly for me todo that. Obviously, at this point, most of what we write is"summary", so I understand the need to get all of yourthoughts down on paper. I think, however, if you slow thepace down a bit, you will really bring in the reader. And I cantwait to read what thats like.Thank you for another excellent piece of writing!- Katie
Reflections on the Critiques/Comments forOthers Throughout each of my critiques in Writing Workshop, I believemy greatest strength was the amount of detail and interest I placedin every entry. That being said, I am sure there were some times inwhich I commented on a fellow classmate’s work with less thanperfect focus. Yet, with the two examples above, I believe it is quiteclear that I was not only interested in their work, but also helpful inoffering constructive criticism. As always, helping another writeralso helped me in my own pieces. First, with Lindsay’s story about “Molly and the Three Bears,” Itruly enjoyed the tale itself. I thought it was fun and lighthearted,but that it could be tried in a different way. She continued to editthis piece throughout the semester, and it was very exciting to seehow her changes adjusted the shape of the story. Asking Lindsay toremove some of the text helped to remind me that we don’t alwaysneed to tell our readers everything. I have dabbled in several worksthis semester, one of which is the beginnings of a novel for theYoung Adult population. I really struggled to get it off the ground,because I kept telling my readers everything they needed to know –without working in dialogue or description of the setting andcharacters. I now see the importance of first establishing thenarrator and what the narrator knows, and then sharing with thereader only as it becomes necessary. Talking to Lindsay about“Molly and the Three Bears” helped me to see this, because I didn’twant her to give away the fact that the bears actually liked whatMolly had done to their cottage. I was hopeful that she wouldrefrain from telling her readers this until the very end, in order to
maintain suspense and excitement. I need to keep this in mindwhen working on my own writing, as well. As for Laura’s work on the “Ellie story,” the critiques I had weresimilar to those I shared with Lindsay. While Lindsay’s story couldchange completely by hiding information from the reader, Laura’spiece seemed to move too quickly by what she was sharing. She hasamazing ideas and creative responses to the action in her work, butI was having trouble holding on to the major plot points. Thishelped remind me, particularly in my poetry, to slow down and allowthe reader to enjoy each second. I know not to rush through timewhen writing, but how much is enough? And how much is toomuch? It is a constant battle that I have with myself when trying tocreate a poem. When is the detail overbearing and when am Imissing some important facets of the setting? As with Laura’s work,I tend to rush to the “meaning” of my poem, without stopping to letmy reader breathe in the poem’s atmosphere. This critique allowedme to see the mistake in my own writing, as well. All in all, many of my critiques and comments to others actuallyhelped me to turn around and edit my own work. If we can spot theproblem areas in someone else’s writing, I think we become morelikely to see it within our own. It would seem that personalreflection sometimes starts when reflecting on something else.
Critiques/Comments From Others I. Workshop 4.7 from Lindsay Bayer Hi Katie! I think its very practical for you to work on setting utilizing the context of the story youve been working on. You start with the depictions of the family room and I think youve laid the groundwork nicely. The only question I have concerns the first three sentences: Our family room is where we spend most of our time. It begins just past the double doors that open into my house and extends all the way to the kitchen. It’s a large space and it allows for us to run and jump as needed. I know that youre explaining the family room, but the second sentence confuses me a bit. Does the room begin upon entering the home? Perhaps that sentence could read, "Its the room that everyone enters when they open our front door." You also describe the room as large to accommodate jumping and running. Is the jumping and running relevant to the rest of the story? Im just wondering because you mention Monopoly games happening in this room to conclude that paragraph, not jumping and running. Im just wondering how that particular type of action ties in. I like how you relate the description of the rug with the family itself...that the house was a home because this item was added to the family room. I think this is a good way to not only describe the setting, but give the reader a better understanding of the family and their community. Your main character mentions that she had "no say in the color combo" but I think this is unnecessary since the rug was gifted to the family upon her birth. Why would she have a say in what color it was, know what I mean?
I think youve done a lot to set the scene for your story. I have a much better idea and picture in my mind of this family as a whole...and Im excited to learn more about them!II. Workshop 7.6 from Sarah Fischer Katie, What a great scene! I am curious about when this is happening in your book in relation to your other submissions, because that makes a difference on my interpretation of what youve accomplished here. If it is after the other excerpts you’ve submitted, it seems like Arden might have realized how lonely her life will be if she continues to get older and her parents stay the same age. Also, most teenagers think life is all about fun, so it’s not surprising that she would think life could not get any better than it is then. Again, I think you do a great job with the dialogue, and using it to build tension and suspense. I like how there is closure to your scene, but also many questions I’m itching to have answered. You are really pulling us into the next chapter here, which is something our readings encouraged. With the depth of your topic, I’m really wondering if Arden’s peers are having the same struggles that she is. Does she have a friend? Does she go to school? What are others thinking that are dealing with the same decision? I’m also confused about Arden’s mother’s demeanor in this passage a little bit. Why did she whimper? Why does she seem so distraught over Arden wanting to stay at this age? And what does this line mean “Maisie whispered back while re-buttoning a section of her blouse?” Are we to be inferring something about her mother’s anatomical make up? Or is this just to remind us she is looking down? I’m not sure.
Maybe a little more specificity would make this moreeffective.I’m excited about this story. Keep plugging away!
Reflections on the Critiques/Comments fromOthers In both of the above comments, I believe it is incrediblyapparent that my workshop group was both invested and willing tohelp one another. Lindsay and Sarah did a beautiful job of offeringadvice on my writing in a positive manner. I never felt put down, orthat they thought poorly of my work. Rather, it was obvious thatboth girls were willing to help me to better my pieces as needed. To begin with, Lindsay’s comment really helped me to betterunderstand the reader’s perspective. She mentions that in my pieceon setting (when describing Arden’s home), it becomes confusingwhen I describe the family room as reaching all the way to thekitchen. For me, this is how my current house is set-up. You comein the front doors to the foyer, walk up two steps to the dining room,and there is the family room and kitchen. They are connected, buton two separate levels. It didn’t occur to me that I would need tofurther explain this to my reader, or that I should attempt a differenttype of design for Arden’s home. Although it was a simplecorrection, or even a simple comment, it really helped to convey tome the importance within detail. Lindsay has never been to myhouse, so how would she know what I was envisioning? I mustalways remember that the reader does not have any of thebackground that I do. It is imperative that I take them step-by-stepthrough whatever I am trying to create. Sarah’s critique was also in regards to an excerpt of my longerpiece. The biggest benefit to Sarah’s comment has to do with hervariety of questions. After reading (and perhaps, re-reading) theentry I submitted, Sarah was still unclear about many different
facets of my writing. This definitely helped to show me howimportant it is to SLOW DOWN when writing for an audience. Icould answer every question that Sarah posed, but if I have theanswer, why doesn’t she? Of course, I haven’t shared all the detailswith Sarah, and that is a very important chunk that is missing frommy writing. I want my readers to feel confident in the plot line andwithin the story, itself. Part of this struggle stems from the fact thatshe was reading only a snippet that was written specifically forclass. Yet, had I slowed down to describe more of what washappening in Arden’s mind and within her actual life, Sarah wouldnot have been left with so many questions. Both girls really helped me to learn that I must stop and taketime for my reader. I cannot expect them to already knoweverything that I do. I must walk with them, hand-in-hand, and letthem take in everything around them. If I want the reader to fullyappreciate my creation, I need to give them time and space to enjoytheir surroundings.
Personal Philosophy When I started this course, I wasn’t exactly sure what it meantto write for children. Would we be babying the content or making itmore childish? Would we become nostalgic of our own past in orderto better relate to children? Would we need to “dumb down” theideas of our text or our vocabulary choices? All in all, I am afraid tosay that my belief of writing for children was not at all what it isnow. I now understand that none of the above needs to happenwhen considering a child audience, but that we must be cognizant ofwho we are writing for. As a writer of children’s works, it is imperative that we alwayskeep the child in mind. For example, consider the world of a child.What are their constants? What are they interested in? Where dothey spend most of their time? From there, anything goes. As longas the child remains the focus, any topic or any idea can be coveredin a way that is inviting to children. Of course, this can be achallenge. Yet, children need to be given the same caliber of worksthat adults are given. Perhaps they cannot yet understand suchintense language, but they can certainly comprehend a topic with asmuch passion and interest as their adult counterparts. Instead ofreminiscing about a summer’s day spent chasing an ice cream man,why not write the tale in such a way that evokes the interest andintrigue of the child audience? The world is filled with varying typesof adults – and just as many types of children. Let’s invite them allto read.Shall we?
Author’s NoteThis course has been a real pleasure.I’ve never thought of myself as much of an author. A writer,perhaps, as I have whipped up many a college essay. Yet, never anauthor: never someone who was capable of creating for a variety ofreaders.Now, however, I see that everyone is a writer. Absolutely everyone isa writer. So long as you use the necessary tools, you can createanything in the world of text. You can doodle the words. You canbuild a separate experience. You can even explore your currentsurroundings in a new way. Writing is just another way to expressyourself – and your thoughts inside.I hope you have enjoyed my creations, but I also hope you take themas a starting point to design your own.Best of luck – and, remember,Have fun.
Biographical Information on AuthorKatie (Katherine) Hoeg was born in Northville, Michigan andremained there throughout her undergraduate career. Leaving theUniversity of Michigan in 2008, Katie was moved down to Port SaintLucie, Florida to help start a K-8 Charter Laboratory School.Although life is certainly different down in the South, Katie stillenjoys the same hobbies. She teaches a lovely class of 18 thirdgrade girls, and spends her free time performing on stage andenjoying life with her fiancé. Katie will be appearing in Annie andNunsense this winter, all while finishing up her Masters’ Degree andthe final preparations for her June 30th wedding at Disney World.
BlurbsKatie brings to the table a myriad of thoughts on life that are writtenwith thoughtfulness, whimsy and compassion! She writes as shespeaks with creativity and a technique, which not only holds thereader, but also inspires! Michelle Troken Chicago, ILPassionate, real and influential; Miss Katie Hoeg writes with the lovein heart! Its no wonder she has a tremendous following! Anyone canrelate to her powerful words no matter what gender, race orethnicity! Stephanie Lipp Port Saint Lucie, FLKatie is the best writer in the entire world. She has done amazingedits to my writing, and her own writing really stands out as superb. Steve Hurvitz Washington D.CKatie is a very imaginative writer, but especially when it comes toyoung adult’s science fiction. Her writings are original andrefreshing. Eric Johansen Port Saint Lucie, FLWhen I get any kind of communication from Katie, it is very creative.It is very amusing, sometimes, and sometimes extremelyinformative. But always very easy to understand. I think she
probably will become even more creative as time goes by, and as shegoes through life experiences. At the present time, she is extremelydelightful to read. Marillyn Pawlowski Chicago, IL