The Short Story:
Cordelia Jensen graduated with a MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2012. Cordelia has three verse novels: Skyscraping (Philomel/Penguin) out now and two forthcoming books, The Way the Light Bends (Philomel/Penguin) and Every Shiny Thing (Amulet/Abrams), which she co-authored with VCFA classmate Laurie Morrison. Skyscraping was named an American Library Association’s 2016 Best Book for Young Adults. Cordelia teaches Writing for Children at Bryn Mawr College. She is a Writer in Residence at The Big Blue Marble Bookstore in Philadelphia where she runs a kids’ literary journal called the Mt. Airy Musers. Cordelia is represented by Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger, Inc.
The Longer Story:
I started my first diary on November 6, 1987. And I have been scribbling things down ever since. I remember once saying to a friend in middle school, “Wouldn’t it be the coolest thing in the world to, like, be able to write an essay about each of your friends?” She looked at me like I was crazy. But, well, here I am writing about teenagers.
For a long time I worked with teenagers. Along with my MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults, I have a Masters of Education in Secondary School Counseling from Shippensburg University. And for eleven summers I worked as a camp counselor for a very special summer program called Longacre Leadership (www.longacre.com) I also attended Longacre as a kid and it is where I met my husband Jon Jensen (that’s another, longer story.)
Recently, my son asked me, “Mom, do you know why people like to do what they are good at doing?” And I thought about how long I have loved to write and how long I have been fascinated by kids and how, now, I feel so lucky to actually have a book deal and be able to write professionally for a group of readers I have always loved to watch and interact with. I answered him this way, “the more you like something, the more you practice doing it.”
I should have said earlier, yes, I grew up in New York City. However, after graduation I had the fortune to attend Kenyon College in rural Ohio where I was able to major in creative writing, which I adored. And some of the lines from Skyscraping I can trace back to writing I did in college. All this is to say, I practiced what I loved to do for a long time. And I am practicing still.
My daughter says she’s going to be a songwriter and a poet when she grows up. I find her in her room sometimes, bits of papers scattered around her, singing loud with her own words in her hand. I hope thirty years from now she is out there, somewhere, practicing still.
Creative play is the thing of life.