Inklings volunteer Kristi Wright has freely given her time and talents to many years of Inklings Book Contests. Each year, she mentors one of our contest winners through a revision-focused writing mentorship to get their winning piece ready for publication. In this interview, Kristi tells us more about her experience volunteering with the contest.
What inspired you to join the Inklings community?
I met Naomi Kinsman, founder of the Young Inklings, through the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. I was deeply inspired by her mission for the Society of Young Inklings. What wouldn’t I have given to be part of this type of organization when I was a child? To be learning the craft of writing through joy and play, like another child might learn a musical instrument, or dance, or theatre. To share my own joy for storytelling with like-minded children and adults. To have the opportunity to be published at such a formative age. It would have meant the world to me. As someone who has been pursuing my own authorial dreams for more decades than I care to admit, I can’t help but wonder whether I might have found a speedier path to publication if I had learned the craft of storytelling early in life. It’s been a joy to be a mentor to children pursuing their own writing dreams.
What’s one dream you’ve pursued while taking part in our Society?
I’ve always loved storytelling and writing and, of course, I’ve looked for ways to develop my craft, but mentoring and teaching for the Young Inklings gave me a renewed focus on craft. I didn’t just want to write stories anymore. I wanted to pursue the craft of storytelling. I became an assistant regional advisor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. I was a founding member of a book club dedicated to reading and analyzing middle grade novels. Now, I co-run that book club. And I co-founded, with Editor-in-Chief Anne-Marie Strohman, kidlitcraft.com: a craft blog for kidlit writers by kidlit writers. Mentoring children on the craft of writing has made me a better writer. Likewise, so has blogging on the craft of writing. Craft is everything to me now. I can’t control whether I’ll ever be traditionally published, but I can improve my own storytelling and writing skills with every project. My dream now is to push myself to be the very best writer I can be, and to write stories that bring me joy and satisfaction.
Why is that dream important to you?
For me, writing isn’t an option. It’s integral to my happiness. And now that I’m a student of craft, I’m much happier when I see my storytelling improve. Also, I remain hopeful that if I work hard at my craft then one day I’ll write a book that’s so special, it will find a home in traditional publishing and eventually in bookstores everywhere. Even if that never happens, I’m still writing books that are special to me. And as I continue to study craft, I’ll just keep getting better at writing stories that delight me. Young Inklings and Naomi Kinsman helped get me into the proper mindset for finding the joy in writing and growing my craft.
How has the Inklings community supported you and your dream?
Here’s a story that encapsulates my experience with Young Inklings. A few years back, the Young Inklings team pulled together an original play as a fundraiser. I’d never had a speaking part in a play, and suddenly I had the important role of a comedic Humpty-Dumpty. It was one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done, but it pushed me out of my comfort zone and into momentary stardom–haha. I was a minor hit. I couldn’t believe that I learned all those lines, that I was funny, and honestly, that I survived the experience. But you know what? After that, I pushed myself again to sing in a jazz band, something else I never dreamed I could do. I was terrible at first, but over time I got better. Through those experiences, I came to the conclusion that everyone should have the opportunity to start from scratch with a skillset. It’s such a revelatory experience, and in many ways, taking chances like that has helped me become a better writer too. I attribute my connection to Young Inklings with springboarding me into a more spontaneous and playful period of my life filled with new creative endeavors.
How have you grown while pursuing this dream?
Simply put (because I’ve already circled around this question up above) I’m more open to building new skills, whether with writing or other creative efforts. I cherish the process of creativity as much as the actual end product. Lately, my favorite saying is: trust the process, which translates to me being open to editorial feedback and to always looking for new ways to apply craft principles to my latest work.
What’s next? What’s your vision?
I’m staying the course by continuing to grow my craft and continuing to push myself to apply that craft to my latest storytelling projects. (And continuing to sing in a jazz band. Did I mention I’m also teaching myself how to play the ukulele?) I look forward to mentoring more children in their storytelling and also growing the kidlitcraft.com platform to help my peers be the best storytellers they can be!
How can the Inklings community support you in activating that vision?
So long as the Inklings community stays true to their playful, joyful pursuit of the craft of storytelling, they will continue to inspire me on my own journey. I’m an Inkling for life!
Kristi Wright writes tales of wonder for children of all ages (including grown-ups like her). She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, two cats (one mostly sweet, one mostly dangerous), and an anxious but very lovable dog. She plays the ukulele for fun. She’s the assistant editor for KidLitCraft.com (a blog that provides craft analysis of middle grade novels), and an active volunteer for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. You can find out more about her at www.kristiwrightauthor.com and follow her on Twitter @KristiWrite.
Support Grit, Empathy, and Vision through Creative Writing
When passionate youth mentor with talented pros, they not only grow as writers, but they develop core skills that affect every area of their lives. In Inklings programs, youth learn practical strategies for developing as artists, gain creative momentum, and tap into the power of their voices as they share their work with peers and a reading audience. Thank you for our financial support of Society of Young Inklings.