“Notice What You Feel”
There’s a short scene in my book Select during which the main character, Alex, notices a woman across a crowded city street running to catch a bus. She’s carrying heavy bags and moving as fast as she can. A man waiting at the bus stop sees her, and Alex assumes he will alert the bus driver so the bus can wait a few seconds for her to get on. But the man doesn’t do that, and the bus speeds away, leaving the woman alone and distressed on the sidewalk.
Alex feels sad and frustrated that she couldn’t do anything to help—and that the man chose not to help when he could have. She pays attention to her feelings, and thinks about the people in this world who choose to help when they can, and those who choose not to help.
This scene was inspired by reality. Not too long before I wrote that scene, I saw this exact thing happen from a distance. It made my heart hurt for the woman who was left on the sidewalk with her heavy bags. I wished I could have done something to help. And as soon as I had the chance, I wrote about it quickly in my notebook and later wrote the scene. Is it critical to the plot of the book? No, not really. Does it help us understand how Alex sees people and the world? I hope so.
Every day, we will witness and experience things that make us feel something. It might be sadness, or a glimmer of joy, or full-blown excitement, or a sense of unexpected calm. It might happen while we are out and about, or at home, or while reading. When we are struck by noticeable feelings, I think it’s important that we take the time to notice them. Pay attention to them. Wonder about them. (What was it that caused the feeling? Why?) Feel them fully. And maybe write about them.
Noticing our feelings and what sparks them can help us be more present and aware of what’s happening in the world, and possibly deepen our understanding of ourselves and others.
It can also help us to think more clearly about books. After reading a chapter or a whole book, we can ask ourselves: Which scenes made me feel something? What did they make me feel? Why? Do I want to read more books that make me feel this way?
And finally, if you write down the tiny details of something you saw or experienced, and how it made you feel, that just might go into a book you write!
Published May 9th, 2023 by Random House Books for Young Readers
About the Book: One girl and her soccer team take a stand against the bullies who push them too far in this brave, inspiring novel that celebrates girl power and the true spirit of sports. Perfect for readers who love The Crossover and Fighting Words.
“A tale of terrific girl power and athleticism.” —Kirkus Reviews
Twelve-year-old Alex loves playing soccer, and she’s good at it, too. Very good. When her skills land her a free ride to play for Select, an elite soccer club, it feels like a huge opportunity. Joining Select could be the key to a college scholarship and a bright future—one that Alex’s family can’t promise her.
But as the team gets better and better, her new coach pushes the players harder and harder, until soccer starts to feel more like punishment than fun. And then there comes a point where enough is enough, and Alex and her teammates must take a stand to find a better way to make their soccer dreams come true.
Powerful and inspiring, Select explores the important difference between positive and negative coaching and celebrates the true spirit of sports.
About the Author: Christie Matheson is the author of Shelter and is also the author-illustrator of many picture books, including Tap the Magic Tree, Touch the Brightest Star, and Bird Watch. She lives in San Francisco with her family.
Thank you, Christie, for this wonderful writing tip!