Author Will Hobbs is talking with junior high school students this week about the creative process.
An outdoors-adventure book recently helped Ken Owens turn a corner.
"I'm beginning to like to read," said Ken, an eighth-grader at Southwest Junior High School.
All Lawrence public school eighth-graders read "Far North" in preparation for a four-day visit here by its author, Will Hobbs.
"It was exciting and has lots of adventure in it," Ken said. "I love the outdoors, so it kind of fit in."
Now, Ken's eager to read more books by Will Hobbs. Now, it doesn't seem to Ken that reading is too time-consuming.
During presentations Monday, Hobbs engaged Southwest Junior High students as he talked about reading, writing and rewriting. Being a writer, he said, is like being a carver who whittles away at a block of wood.
"It only happens with work," he said.
Hobbs, 50, a former junior high school reading teacher, knows his audience: adolescents. For 30 days each year, he's away from his Durango, Colo., home, touching base with that audience.
Reading makes a strong writer, he told students. Self-editing makes a stronger writer.
"There were three drafts of this book ("Far North"), like almost all my books, because you can never get it right the first time," he said. "I'm kind of like a rat in a maze. There's the cheese at the end, but I'm not sure how I'm going to get there."
Hobbs said he tries to write pictures for his readers' imaginations by employing details. He reaches out to his readers' five senses.
From beginning to end, Hobbs spends about a year on each book. He concentrates for several weeks on research before sitting in front of his word processor. A first draft can take up to two months. After a break, Hobbs returns to his second-floor study to write a second draft. He walks away from the book again before immersing himself to write a third, and usually final, version.
People whom Hobbs has known and spots he has visited occupy his writing toolbox.
"You get ideas from little things that happen in real life," he said. "You get ideas from characters, people that you meet."
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