Ralph Fletcher & “The Power Of A Writer’s Notebook”


It was quite chilly outside in Centennial on Thursday, February 7th.

It was quite chilly outside in Centennial on Thursday, February 7th. For many people though (mostly teachers) this wasn’t a problem because they were inside a Marriot Hotel for the bustling 2013 CCIRA conference. There were many educational exhibits and booths to explore, plus lots of famous authors giving lectures. The main event of the day was a luncheon at which the amazing Ralph Fletcher spoke. Ralph Fletcher is the author of 41 books. His most popular for kids include Fig Pudding, Flying Solo, and the hilarious and informational Guy Write. He is known for encouraging boys to write and is very well liked among educators as hundreds of them poured into a small conference room to hear him speak. But before this, he graciously agreed to do an interview.

Fletcher has put out a book about keeping a writer’s notebook called Breathing In, Breathing Out. When asked how he decided on that title he said “The notebook has two different parts to it. It’s a way that you breathe in the world around you notice stuff but also breathe out and try stuff and experiment in your notebook.” Also, one of his mentors Don Murray told him that he was the only one that could write a book with that title. He seemed very enthusiastic and gave detailed answers. When asked what he finds most rewarding about coming to a conference like CCIRA Fletcher said “I get to meet teachers who read my books and they always say nice things to me. Also sometimes they’ll ask me questions or make a suggestion that will get me thinking about maybe even a new book idea.” He went on to say that CCIRA is different because like other conferences it has shrunk a bit but still maintains its size pretty well and that “It’s good, it’s well done, teachers are usually optimistic, and they bring in good speakers.” He hesitated a bit at the question, “Would he be as successful if he didn’t keep a writers notebook?” but, eventually replied with, “No I don’t. I always say that the notebook is the one that feeds all my other books. And in a way it is the mother of all my other books. It’s a very important part of what I do.” The three best pieces of advice he said he’d give young aspiring writers were “Number one, get a notebook where you can write something everyday. Secondly, reading is important. Writers are always good readers even if you read the bad stuff.” Finally…”don’t forget to be a kid.”

Later at the lunch, right before he was about to speak, Ralph Fletcher said that he used to get nervous before presenting but not anymore. He then gave an inspiring talk with the topic “The Power of the Writer’s Notebook.” Some of his main points were “The writer’s notebook is a safe private place to write.” That a notebook is “high comfort low-risk and personal. A place to write good and bad.” In his notebook he said he collects “snatches of talk, lists and artifacts, writing that inspires, and odd facts.” It was interesting because he used a lot of examples of student writing to teach teachers. Everyone’s eyes were glued on him listening intently to all that he had to say. After the luncheon many people were saying that they were going to begin keeping a writer’s notebook because they had been motivated by Ralph Fletcher. In the interview he gave some insight on his current projects. Fletcher said that he’s working on a baseball novel for kids called Step Up To The Plate and also a book of scary poems titled Crawlspace. I’m sure these will both be magnificent publications like many of his others that people (especially from the CCIRA) will look forward to.