Gah! Are you kidding me? When I started writing in February I thought I'd get an idea down on paper, tweak it a bit and then start submitting. I'd heard this process took a while, so in a year or so I'd have my contract (for a gagillion dollars of course!) in hand and voila!
Oh wow, what a humbling experience writing picture books is. It's SO hard. You have to come up with an amazing, fresh idea, write it in 600 words (400 or less is better). You have to have a conflict or problem that speaks to a child. It must have takeaway value (what the what??).
Andrea Davis Pinkney at the LA SCBWI conference shared that a friend told her, "I'm thinking
of making a little money on the side by writing children's books."
Andrea related that her friend might as well have said, "I'm going to make a little money on the side by becoming a professional ballet dancer." (SCBWI Conference Blog)
And here are Mem Fox's thoughts on picture book writing. I read this and I don't know whether to laugh and keep writing, or cry and throw in the towel on this crazy picture book writing notion!
Mem Fox (author of 40 children's books)'s "speech about the story behind the story of Where Is The Green Sheep?"
"Those who have heard me before will know how much I detest writing
picture books. You will know that I loved writing this speech because
it kept me from having to writing for children! Writing picture books
is not what I live and breathe, in my daily life. It nibbles merely at
the edges of my life. If it took up any more of my life it would be the
death of me. Believe me, you wouldn’t want the misery of writing for
the very young to take up any more than 10% of your time either, unless,
of course, you enjoy being on Prozac and you look great in a
strait-jacket. Writing picture books is madness. It’s hell on earth.
Let me take you through the process so you can weep along with me and
send me sympathy cards afterwards." (read the rest here!)
Ah well, when it comes down to it, if you love it, you gotta do it. And so I shall persist and perhaps someday publish . . .
My writing friend Sue asked for three people to volunteer to blog hop with her so here goes!
My objective is to answer 4 or all of the following questions and then link to three other authors (or 3 helpful links if I am lazy, which I might be since I did the Electric Run last night and was up until dunh dunh dunnnnh 1:30a.m. *YAWN)
1. What are you working on right now? 2. How does it differ from other works in its genre? 3. What experiences have influenced you? 4. Why do you write what you do? 5. How does your writing process work? 6. What is the hardest part about writing? 7. What would you like to try as a writer that you haven't yet? 8. Who are the authors you most admire? 9. What scares you?
1. What are you working on right now? I'm working on several different fiction picture books right now. Some of them are about chickens because we have three and they are such characters! I'd really like to try nonfiction at some point, but right now I'm just focusing on writing good picture books with the info I have at hand, aka the fiction that roils and boils out of my imagination. :)
5. How does your writing process work? When I first started trying to seriously write children's books in February of this year, I had ideas coming out of me like crazy, all in rhyme, bad bad rhyme. I've learned A LOT since then, in particular the components of an awesome picture book. I still type up all the random ideas that come to me, but now I spend a bit more time rolling the idea around in my head to find a story arc before I start writing. Then once I find it sometimes I have to FORCE myself to sit at the computer to type it out. Other times the story just sneaks up on me, most often while I'm lying down with my daughter before she drifts off and then I rush to the computer and try to get it all down!
6. What is the hardest part about writing? MAKING time for it. I have a 4 year old daughter and a 2 year old son. Some days I try to write while my son naps, other days my daughter needs some one-on-one time and so writing must wait. Lots of evenings after the kids are asleep I try to write or at least think a bit about my writing. :D Depends on how much energy I've got left.
7. What would you like to try as a writer that you haven't yet? I'd like to go to a conference! I wanted to go to LA SCBWI 13, but it seemed like too much (money and everything) this year. So I'm going to the Kansas SCBWI conference in October. I hope it's as wonderful as conferences I've read about other authors attending. I'd also like to do a writer's retreat. The Highlights Foundation Retreats sound wonderful and Julie Hedlund has sent out some others. I'll have to blog about them all soon for any authors out there who aren't in 12x12 yet!
9. What scares you? Writing is a tough business, chock full of rejection. You can run into rejection in your critique group, your family and friends not to mention the well-known rejection from editors and agents. This can be tough to face, but you have to do what you love! Many well-known writers have faced a lot of rejection before they got published. "J.K Rowling was famously rejected by a mighty 12 publishers before Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone was accepted by Bloomsbury - and even then only at the insistence of the chairman's eight-year-old daughter." (Huffington Post)
Some helpful links for all you writers:
Sites I use while I'm critiquing other writers work and my own: