Three Questions with Dr. Mira Reisberg

Smiling-MiraI met Mira Reisberg earlier this year when she invited me to teach at the writing school she founded, the Children’s Book Academy. It’s been my privilege since then to have already co-taught one course with her and I’m about to launch another course on May 19. Her official bio is below, but don’t let all the titles and accomplishments fool you — Mira is wonderfully warm, down to earth, and fun to be around. I’m happy to be welcoming her to Nerdy Chicks Rule today.

1. You call yourself a “creative adventurer” (which I love!). Where did you get your creativity and your sense of adventure?

As the daughter of Holocaust survivors, I was taught fairly early on that the things of greatest value are the things that can’t be taken away – creativity, heart and intelligence. My family was poor and we never had a vacation, but, we did have books and art supplies. We also had a mighty Oxford Dictionary, which I loved. In the anthology Just Like Me I wrote about my mum giving me art supplies and saying, “I can’t give you a beautiful world, but you can make one for yourself.” I am so grateful that we were empowered in this way. I learned early on that if I framed things in terms of creativity, I could pretty much do anything. So when I started playing around with computers in 1985, I looked at it as an art tool or a sophisticated etch-a-sketch and that took the fear away. I have drawn, painted, and written my way through some pretty tough times but now my personal art is pretty much all joy. This is such a touchstone question for me – creativity as a tool for transformation. I think creativity comes in so many different forms including things like decorating, cooking, gardening, etc. that are transferrable if you have the confidence or courage to try. I’ve taught tons of people to do thing they never thought they could do and to me that too is a form of creativity. Being a creative teacher is about demystifying things and putting them in a systematic sequential order that is also accessible, personally meaningful, and fun. Some of this I learned getting my PhD in education and cultural studies (focus on kid lit of course).

In terms of being an adventurer, to me that means keeping an open mind and being willing to walk through fear and the unknown. And while doing that in the creative world is natural to me, doing it in the physical world, apart from traveling, is a whole other ball game. Climbing things, riding horses, crossing logs etc. is terrifying. Fortunately as I get older and a bit more confident in my body, things like that are getting easier.

2. You’re a wearer of many (and I mean MANY) hats — artist, educator, professor, literary agent, literature advocate, founder of the Children’s Book Academy — an indubitable Renaissance Nerdy Chick, if you will! Can you give our readers some advice on balancing so many interests and roles?

Ha!! You are asking the wrong honorary nerdy chick about balance. Being a super creative and fairly driven head, heart, and hands person, my body has taken a bit of a beating from overwork. I suspect I’m hooked on serotonin from challenging myself so much. Recently I joined a gym and am working with a trainer. It’s a really culturally diverse gym with all ages and body types, which I love. I used to love Oscar Wildes quote, “Moderation in all things, especially moderation.” But now I’m looking for that elusive thing called balance. Let me know if anyone finds it.

3. What should Nerdy Chicks who want to become published authors do to find success? 

Success comes to people who work hard and study their craft, who are patient, passionate about what they do, willing to take risks, and persistent in revising and submitting their work. There are two skills that most writers need to be successful – one is storytelling- being able to write a good story with a great beginning, middle, and end and the other is being an exquisite writer who tells their story with perfectly fabulous writing. I’ve seen lots of great storytellers who have passages of exquisite writing but it’s overall choppy. The best writers are those who really know the craft of writing so that every word is pitch perfect. This is why Sudipta and I created From Storyteller to Exquisite Writer: The Pleasures and Craft of Poetic Technique – to answer that need. While we will be covering the storytelling elements as we walk students through writing their manuscript, the heart of the course is exquisite writing, whether that be humorous writing, heartfelt writing, rhyming, non-rhyming, fiction, or non-fiction. I don’t know about Sudipta, but I’ve had tons of serotonin happening while developing this course. Perhaps because I’m so proud of it as a work of art in itself, and excited by the good that it’s going to do for those who take it.

Dr. Mira Reisberg is an award-winning children’s book illustrator, as well as a published writer, art director, editor, former professor and children’s book mentor with over 25 years of experience in the industry. Following the success of many of her Children’s Book Academy students, she founded Hummingbird Literary. You can find her at the Children’s Book Academy website or at the Hummingbird site (although she is not currently accepting unsolicited submissions). 

To find out about Mira and Sudipta’s ground-breaking course starting May 19th visit this site. This is the only time that Mira will be co-teaching this course with Sudipta and it should be outrageously fabulous and fun! And, please join Mira and Sudipta for a free webinar on poetic techniques in your writing!

4 comments on “Three Questions with Dr. Mira Reisberg

  1. rnewman504 says:

    Terrific interview, Mira and Sudipta!

  2. Rebecca says:

    I love what you said about exquisite writing. Reminds me to slow down and consider every word! In my latest WIP, I have passages that I would call exquisite. I just need the rest of the draft to the on that same level. Thanks for the encouragement!

  3. kirsticall says:

    Thanks Mira and Sudipta for a great interview. It’s wonderful to learn more about you Mira! I’ve learned invaluable writing tools in your courses 🙂

  4. Carrie Brown says:

    Great interview! Howdy, Mira! Not sure how you do it all! 🙂 And Sudipta, I love your books!

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