Todd Mitchell (Writing for Young People) is the author of several award-winning novels for young adults. His most recent book is The Last Panther (Delacorte, 2017). Other books are The Secret to Lying, a Colorado Book Award winner (Candlewick, 2011), Backwards (Candlewick, 2013) which won the 2014 Colorado Authors League Award, and was a finalist for the 2014 Colorado Book Award, and The Traitor King (Scholastic, 2007), a Colorado Book Award Finalist. He’s also a writer for the graphic novel, A Flight of Angels (Vertigo, YALSA Top 10 Pick for Teens). In addition to his books, he’s published several short stories, essays, and poems in national and international journals. He has nearly 20 years of experience teaching creative writing at college and graduate levels, and serving as Director of the Beginning Creative Writing Teaching Program at Colorado State University. When he’s not traveling or teaching in California, he lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with his wife, dog, and two wily daughters. You can visit him at ToddMitchellBooks.com.
Colorado Book Award
Colorado Authors League Award, 2014
If writing came easily to me, I probably wouldn’t be much of a teacher. Fortunately, it doesn’t.
For me, writing is a daily act of hope in the face of despair, because I write knowing that most of the sentences I write will need to be rewritten. Most stories will be rejected. Most books won’t be published or win big prizes or be a huge commercial success. And yet, I still write every day to transform my characters, and in doing so, to attempt to transform myself as well as the world in which I live. With every sentence, I’m creating a habitat for hope to live in. Because hope is a beautiful, irrational beast, without which nothing good would ever be created.
I’m a champion for the slow writer. The one who struggles, and rewrites, and keeps seeking. Writing, as I see it, is not a race, or a popularity contest, or a competition. There are many voices out there that might encourage us to see writing as these things, but I think that’s a mistake. If you believe writing is a way to achieve fame, wealth, or success, you might be terribly disappointed. As a friend of mine put it, “Good luck with your breakdown.” But if you want to engage in the constant process of transformation through adversity, understanding through narrative, insight through compassion, and transcendence through suffering, then welcome to the journey.
“No vision is real until it’s enacted upon the earth for the people to see.”
First and foremost, I believe it’s my role as a mentor to help you achieve your writing goals. I know this sounds simple, but I’ve had many teachers who would strongly disagree with this statement.
I don’t think it’s for me to determine what someone should write, or what writing is “literary” or “worthwhile.” Instead, I want to begin every writing relationship by asking, “What is it you want to accomplish as a writer, and why?” If I think I can help you, I’ll attempt to do so. If not, I’ll do my best to see that in advance and to let you know.