Friday, May 28, 2010


What literary and illustrated treasures abound in our museums and libraries, and what inspiration they give us, the viewers! As I wandered through the Morgan Library this week with its new entrance and wonderful, expanded galleries, I was once again stunned by the variety and scale of the collections - early Assyrian and Sumerian seals, illuminated manuscripts from medieval and Renaissance eras, a copy of the Magna Carta (this precious document had been in the US for a special event and could not get home because of the ash cloud and so is on special loan), Gutenberg bibles, manuscripts of famous modern authors, and, of course, manuscripts and illustrations of early children's books, including Babar.

At the same time, the BEA, the giant BookExpo America, was taking place down at the Javitts Center. Many in the American publishing world attended this conference, listened to presentations of what's new in the publishing field and met and greeted authors, editors, marketing experts and publishers.

Most of us would be thrilled to be asked to present our book at the BEA conference. I know I could never aspire to the heights of the great writers who penned the masterpieces at the Morgan, but knowing such a high level conference on books is being held in New York and seeing such luminaries of the written word in one beautiful space like the Morgan does inspire me to try again to write a new piece, research and outline like crazy, get it down and as right as possible, and revise and revise. Most probably our books won't be labeled treasures of an era but if children read them, like them, hold them close and read them again, and maybe get some inspiration from them, then they do become treasures.

Seeing some of the important and fascinating manuscripts at the Morgan did give me some ideas for new stories for children. What experiences have given you inspiration and ideas lately for new treasures? I was excited just to get home and to start to jot down and outline my new story lines. Now I'm trying to get them right....and then revise.


  1. Eileen, I haven't been to the Morgan in years, and your post makes me want to go back there soon! It's inspiring to walk among the accomplishments of great writers and illustrators and, at the same time, touch base with that place of creativity within ourselves and be able to say, I am part of this community, too.

    Enjoy your new writing projects. Thanks for posting this.

  2. Toby,

    Yes, its great to see the manuscripts of renowned authors and to think that we are a small part of the larger writing community. And, it's fun to get home from such an excursion and to start to outline something new.

  3. Oh, I LOVE collections like this. My personal highlight was holding Anne Bradstreet's manuscript book in my very own hands at Harvard's Stoughton library -- a book that's a good 300 years older than I am. Blew me away.

  4. From what I've read, your trip to the Morgan would have been much more enjoyable and less stressful than attending BEA . . . check out the post about that expo by Editorial Anonymous on her blog!

  5. So many writers have had great success delving into history and rewriting those stories as contemporary fiction. I've always got my feelers out for projects like that -- both to read and write.

  6. Marcia,

    Wow ! Imagine holding Anne Bradstreet's manuscript. That's inspiration!


    Guess the BEA can be hectic. Neat that its all about books - of all kinds.


    Yup - always looking for new ideas - even among the old.