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by Amanda Davis

Hello fellow Storystormers! It’s Day 29, and we’re nearing the end of the challenge-a sad but wondrous thing. Give yourself a pat on the back for making it this far. Hurrah! I hope your well is brimming with at least 28 new ideas from the fabulous posts we’ve read and that you’re raring to go with your writing. So much inspiration! I’m excited to be here as a guest blogger and to help us close out the final days of the challenge. Storystorm holds a special place in my heart as it helped me focus in on developing the manuscript that later became my debut picture book, 30,000 STITCHES. Thanks, Tara!

Now, onto my post!

I’m a very action-oriented person and love when I find new writing or drawing challenges that I can apply to my practice to help me churn out new ideas or work. This is one of the many reasons I love participating in Storystorm each year! For this post, I wanted to share one of my own challenges that I created called, Haiku From Two. I crafted this challenge last year to help me get through the pandemic and needed something to keep me feeling inspired to create, read, and connect. I hope that you find it useful in your own creative practice as well!

WHAT IS HAIKU FROM TWO?

Haiku from Two started out as a 30-Day Challenge on social media.

The premise is:

  • Randomly select two words from the current book you’re reading.
  • Write a haiku* using those two words.
  • Post your haiku on social media with the #HaikuFromTwo.

* a haiku is a three-line poem- five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third (5-7-5).

HIGHLIGHTS FROM MY HAIKU FROM TWO EXPERIENCE:

READING: I don’t know about you, but I tend to have a large stack of ‘to be read’ books hanging around the house. I stare at them, feeling guilty that I haven’t made the time to dive in. When the pandemic hit, I figured that was a great time to whittle down the pile. I hoped the challenge of completing a haiku from each book would push me to keep reading, and it did just that!

WRITING: If you’re looking for a simple activity that can keep you writing, I found this was the trick for me! Some days were challenging, but it forced me to keep those creative juices flowing, which in turn helped me when I shifted gears to my picture book manuscripts, too!

CONNECTION: From authors, to editors, to cover artists, down to the book designers, whenever I would finish my Haiku From Two, I would photograph it and post on Instagram and Twitter, tagging all those involved in making the book. It was a great way to connect with others in the industry. Through the challenge, I’ve made some new online friends, and even e-chatted with authors such as, Ruth Behar. As I would search for the right people to tag in each post, it reminded me that it takes a village to bring our book babies into the world!

INSPIRATION: The reason we are all here, inspiration! These small haikus have the potential to turn into BIG ideas! I now have the option to develop these haikus further and use them as inspiration for new characters, settings, and themes. More on that below.

ALTERNATIVES:  Let’s face it, writing/art challenges can be hard to commit to, so here are some ways you can alter the Haiku From Two activity to best suit your mood and needs.

In-between books? Don’t fret! Instead, use an old book from the shelf or maybe an article you read online. You can even use two words from your favorite song. A magazine or even a dictionary will do. Basically, anything that has words can work!

If you’re not into poetry, no worries! Scratch the syllables and make up a random sentence instead. Perhaps that sentence then becomes the first line of your new picture book manuscript or gives you an idea for some new characters in your story. For example, I’ve been playing around with developing the idea of “Flashlight Ghosts”.

These two words came from the haiku I developed from ONE CRAZY SUMMER by Rita Williams-Garcia. I’m not sure what or where yet but Flashlight Ghosts sure sound like interesting characters 🙂 Not to mention I had Rita herself playing along for this one, too!

If you consider yourself an artist as well, after you develop your haiku, you can illustrate it, too! I enjoyed this approach with the haiku I created for COME ON, RAIN, a picture book by Karen Hesse and John J. Muth. My two words were Hot and Air, which made me think of flying high in a hot air balloon.

Now, a new story about a hot air balloon adventure is waiting to be explored!

SIDE NOTE: Don’t put pressure on yourself to create every day! I initially began this challenge in March of 2020 with Lynda Mullaley Hunt’s FISH IN A TREE and intended to do a Haiku From Two each day for 30 consecutive days, but then…life happened…amidst a pandemic nonetheless.

Six months later, I finally reached my Day 30 in September with ALL BOYS AREN’T BLUE.

It took longer than I’d expected, but in the end, I read twelve new amazing books and now have a jar full of potential new story ideas and inspiration!

Even though I reached my 30 days, I’m continuing to partake in the Haiku From Two challenge. I hope you will join me! If you decide to take on the challenge in 2021, see below for the official rules. And remember, no pressure to complete the 30 days. Instead, think of this as another tool in your creative arsenal ready and waiting for the next time you’re in need of a muse.

So, as I close us out of Day 29, I challenge you to a Haiku From Two! Grab a book, randomly choose two words, and form a haiku! Voilá! Your next story idea awaits!  Be sure to tag me on Instagram @amandadavis_art or Twitter @amandadavisart, and use #haikufromtwo to play along!

In case you’re interested, here is my Haiku From Two reading list:

FISH IN A TREE by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
ONE CRAZY SUMMER by Rita Williams-Garcia
THE BFG by Roald Dahl (I was in a throwback mood)
THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY by Gabrielle Zevin
A DOG’S WAY HOME by W. Bruce Cameron
LUCKY BROKEN GIRL by Ruth Behar
THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR by Nicola Yoon
AMAL UNBOUND by Aisha Saeed
THE POET X by Elizabeth Acevedo
THERE, THERE by Tommy Orange
ALL BOYS AREN’T BLUE by George M. Johnson
BROWN GIRL DREAMING by Jacqueline Woodson

One last note: today is also Multicultural Children’s Book Day! Follow along at #ReadYourWorld to help celebrate and raise awareness around kid’s books that celebrate diversity and help these books get into more classroom and libraries!

Happy haikuing y’all!

Amanda Davis is a teacher, artist, writer, and innovator who uses her words and pictures to light up the world with kindness. After losing her father at the age of twelve, Amanda turned to art and writing as an outlet. It became her voice. A way to cope. A way to escape. And a way to tell her story. She was thus inspired to teach art and pursue her passion for writing and illustrating children’s books. Through her work, Amanda empowers younger generations to tell their own stories and offers children and adults an entryway into a world of discovery. A world that can help them make sense of themselves, others, and the community around them. A world where they can navigate, imagine, and feel inspired—over and over again. When she’s not busy creating, you can find her sipping tea, petting dogs, and exploring the natural wonders of The Bay State with her partner and rescue pup, Cora.

Her debut creative nonfiction picture book, 30,000 STITCHES, hits stores May 4, 2021 with WorthyKids/Hachette Book Group, and her poetry and illustrations can be found in the Writers’ Loft new anthology, FRIENDS & ANEMONES: OCEAN POEMS FOR CHILDREN (November, 2020). Amanda is represented by Jennifer Unter of The Unter Agency.

To connect with Amanda and learn more about her work, visit her online at amandadavisart.com, Twitter @amandadavisart Instagram @amandadavis_art and Facebook.

Amanda is offering a 30-minute Zoom meeting to chat about a specific story or anything else kid-lit related OR for our educator and librarian friends, Amanda would like to offer a FREE 20-minute virtual classroom visit.

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My Picture Books

COMING SOON:


BLOOP
illus by Mike Boldt
HarperCollins
July 2021

ABSURD WORDS
illustrator TBA
Sourcebooks eXplore
November 2021

"PRIVATE I" SERIES #3
illus by Ross MacDonald
Little, Brown
2022

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