Saturday, August 6, 2011

Gary Paulsen Keynote: A Writer's Upside-Down Life

"Hatchet." Have you read it? You must.

Gary Paulsen is the three time Newbery-Honor Winning Author who wrote it, and over 200 more books. He has 30-40 million copies of his books in print!

Gary Paulsen telling us the stories of his life and his journey as an author
is like a master class in how to tell a story!

He's got the room roaring with laughter in the first 30 seconds. Roaring.

And then he brings it down by sharing his childhood story, one where he didn't so much fall through the cracks, he was 'hammered through them.' By the time he was 10 he was trapping in the woods, failing school, no friends, and fighting to support himself and on his own.

"All the stuff in Hatchet is true, it's all the stuff I've done."

And then he walks in a library... and the librarian gave him a library card, with his name on it, spelled right. "And I was somebody."

Would you like a book? Yeah. He struggled to read it for weeks, returned it and 'would you like another?' 'Yeah.' And he became a reader.

"Everything I have become (all the books, all the awards], I owe that woman."

What an incredible testament to the power of librarians to transform lives!

He shares more about his remarkable journey to becoming a writer, the hard work he's put into it (while working many other 'day' jobs), running the Iditarod, his books, his successes and setbacks, and more successes - 3 Newbery Honors in a row, for "Dogsong," "Hatchet," and "The Winter Room!"

And what's he's realized through it all is that "I love to write."

When he finishes, the room leaps to their feet, giving him a standing ovation.

Wow. What a life. What a storyteller!

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