Sunday, May 4, 2008

Our Massachusetts Book Continues

The Write Sisters are heavy into the research part of our second collaborative book. Today, at our monthly meeting, Kathy read a draft of her Tenley Albright chapter, Janet read a little bit of her Mary Dyer draft and the group critiqued my chapter on Ellen Swallow Richards.

This is where the real work begins--not just in the research and writing--but in the give and take that will ultimately become our book. Each of our "25 Women" books tries to cover American history from the 1600s to the present. Today we talked about whether the 1600s were properly represented by having a chapter on Anne Hutchinson and a chapter on Mary Dyer. Were the women's histories too similar? Would it be better to eliminate Anne Hutchinson since many kids' books have already been written about her? Who would make a suitable substitute?

Before we started the book, I had compiled a list of nearly 50 women we could profile. In an earlier blog entry, I talked about the decision-making process that goes into whittling down that list to just 25 names. One thing we learned in our first book was that this process has to remain flexible. When each writer agrees to do certain topics, it is with the full knowledge that we may have to drop one or more topics with something more suitable. Maybe there just isn't enough information on the subject. Maybe the subject chosen for profile is not really a good role model or research topic for children. Later this week, I'll let you know the decision about Anne Hutchinson's fate (that seemed to happen to the poor lady a lot, as you can see in the illustration). I'll also discuss why the decision was reached and how it impacts the book.

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