ReviMo Day 6 - Lindsay Barrett George

Friday, January 17, 2014

Today we have Lindsay Barrett George with us. Welcome Lindsay!


What makes a publishable manuscript?

This one’s easy. The story that you can’t get out of your head. The character that you fall in love with every time you re-read the story. Every time. And the fact that you want to re-read the story – and to re read the lines – the words – again and again. The one – the story - that makes you want to carry the book …close.

How do you determine if a story idea is worth pursuing/revising?

TIME.

Time is always my best friend in helping me decide if an idea is worth pursuing. If you (one) can write the idea down –the premise – and put it somewhere special – file the idea away. Put it w a y away… For a month – or 2. Or 6 months. And then look at it again – with new eyes… That’s a sure fire test. This works well with a ms… Because you can never ever read a ms. every day with fresh eyes and ears. Which is what one needs to see and hear the story clearly.

Putting the ms. away for such a long time is tough. But this exercise will serve you well… it always has for me.

Revisions are excruciating and, at the same time - so very pleasurable. Easy to know when a story is not working … (we all know when it isn’t)… but problem solving is a lot of what children’s book writing is about… and being ‘in it’ is gooey-good – at least for me. But please remember that I deal with texts that have sometimes 50 - 70 words? And since every single word must be the exact right word – revising a text may mean living with and re-thinking, re-sleeping with, obsessing about ONE SINGLE WORD. Completely captivating. Completely engaging. Nuts but I truly love doing this. Reworking until it works.

Ideas!

I’d love briefly to talk about where ideas really come from – for me. They come to me – or more accurately – I snatch them out of thin air…

I hear THINGS –
on the radio
on TV (I sometimes watch, much to my annoyance)
I overhear people
I look at ads in newspapers
and often I’ll be in a conversation and someone will say something
and that something –
that Great Idea –
will hang there in the air –
often in a green neon typeface…
and then I’ll know that the idea is worth writing down
or I’ll surely forget it.

But never do I ‘come up’ with an idea for a story…they come to me. And you CANNOT lose faith in the fact that this process - this happening – will happen again. It does in it’s own good time. Can’t control the flow. I value ‘down’ time – Driving my car with the radio turned off. That’s a great time for idea gathering. Or walking the dogs…or duck.

Any other thoughts for fellow picture book writers?

haha… who am I to say… but maybe to…
Keep the faith.
Great Ideas come when you least expect them.
Be totally original.
Write the story that no one else can write.
(I didn’t come up with that – but it’s a great piece of advice).

I think there are 4 elements that we all share:

1. We’re all talented. Yup – we are.
2. You have to be lucky.
3. You need to be relentless.
4. And hope that timing is on your side.


Thank you so much Lindsay!






 





Lindsay Barrett George is a children’s book author/illustrator , widely recognized for her striking illustrations of wildlife. Her books have been picked as Outstanding Science Books for Children, American Bookseller Pick of the Lists, and have received Children’s Literature Choice Awards. She received the 2013 PSLA Outstanding Author/Illustrator of the Year Award.

Lindsay has doodled the animals outside her home in New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Wisconsin, but is presently doodling the critters outside her 1898 red-brick schoolhouse. She lives with her husband, two cats, a diva mini Dachshund named Maggie, and a very handsome duck in northeastern Pa.

Lindsay loves to read books, she loves making books, she loves teaching how to make a book, and her dog, Maggie, loves to chew on books.

Books rule!

To enter giveaway:

1. Scroll down to the Rafflecopter widget at the end of this post.
2. Under the prize listings, CLICK on the “Revised PB MS Today Commented on Today's Post” button.
3. If you have revised a Picture Book manuscript and commented on today's post, click ENTER and you're entered! Remember you are on the honor system!

Only one more day, hang in there everyone!! You can do this!

Each day you revise and comment (Jan. 12-18th) you can enter for chances to win. The winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter January 19th. There will be a final giveaway January 19th for those of you who revise 5+ days! Good luck everyone!

102 comments :

Nicole Snitselaar said...

hello, Thank you for your post !
Our imagination is such a wonderful gift !
3 month ago I wrote a story and was so exited with it I wanted to send it out... But, I didn't. And the other day I read it over and completely changed it. So relieved I hadn't sent it out as it was ! :)

Yvonne Mes said...

You are so right, it can be really hard letting a pb ms sit, but it is well worth it! I love your 4 elements. Thanks for sharing your perspective on revisions.

Marcie F Atkins said...

I'm so glad you think putting it away is a good idea to determine whether it right to move forward with it. I've been thinking about doing that with today's mss. I have messed around with it for awhile. I tried something different hoping to fix it today. But no. I think it's time to put it away for a few months and see if it's worth pursuing with fresh eyes.

Robyn Campbell said...

Thank you Lindsay. Time is my best friend too. It's early here, but I'm up looking at a MS I put away. Fresh eyes are a good thing. Ha. Revising that story and it's gonna be a good one. YaY! Write on!

Marcie Colleen said...

So true. Ideas come to me, I don't come up with them. Keeping the faith means I don't worry that that will change. Thank you.

Jen Swanson said...

Ideas come to me all the time, too. I wish I had unlimited time to spend working on all of them. But, yes, you are so correct, there are stories that you write that stay with you forever. Thanks for the post!

Katie Gast said...

Thanks for the post. I'm very familiar with reworking until it works, but maybe I need to put the story aside for a time so I can look at it with new eyes.

Rachel Stones said...

It is so hard to put away a manuscript, but it definitely helps! Patience is not my strong point. :) I'm working on one now that I think I need to set aside for a bit.

Donna L Sadd said...

Great advice and, if you have enough stories in the hopper, waiting on them a bit won't be that hard to do.

Cecilia Clark said...

I have several stories I love and I love to reread and they never get old. I like that you say the stories come to you, I know how that feels. I don't need to chase them, they come and sometimes they sit and annoy me like toddlers wanting attention so that my brain is taken up with story development to the exclusion of the rest of the world. :) Thank you Lindsay Barrett Georgefor sharing your time and experiences with us.

Kathy Doherty said...

The hardest thing for me to do IS put a story away. But that works! Flaws come glaring out! Thanks for the post.

Michele Norman said...

The image of an idea, neon green and floating, is fantastic.

Lori Mozdzierz said...

Our muses are amazing gifters. We just have to be open to receiving and nuturing those precious gems given to us.

Deirdre Sheridan Englehart said...

I pulled out one of my old manuscripts to look at. I had written in years ago and then a few months ago, I did some revisions. I like the original much better and have been playing with it this morning. Thanks for your ideas!

saputnam said...

Great advice, Lindsay! I always have 3-4 manuscripts that I am working on at the same time and if I get bogged down on one I can easily switch over to one of the others… then after working on them and getting them as spit-polished as I can I put them on the back burner to simmer for 3-4 months, or longer, before taking them out and rereading them with fresh eyes. It's amazing what you'll spot... and once in a while magic happens and after rereading a story you'll sit in awe knowing that you were the author of that piece.

Debra Shumaker said...

I so agree with letting manuscripts rest. It really brings fresh eyes to them when you pull them out again. But sometimes I fear I will never know when it's "done."

Pat Miller said...

It's almost magical--reading one of my stories months after I've written it. I don't even recognize the work as my own. Then the revision seems much easier as my objective mind kicks in. Thanks for the advice, Lindsay.

Sophia Mallonée said...

Putting a manuscript away for a while is my best tool. It's amazing what a fresh pair of eyes and a new perspective can see. Thanks for the post!

Sue Heavenrich said...

Thanks for reminding me that it's OK to put something aside for a month or two and let it "steep". Because I know that while it's sitting there in the file folder, my brain is still thinking about it. I plan to do that with a story I'm working on today - put it away for awhile and see if it still sounds fresh in a month.

Kirsti Call said...

This is a great post Lindsey. It's hard for me to put a story away when I just want to make it perfect now! But when I finally do let it go because it just isn't right, it really is better. Thanks for the reminder!

Melanie Ellsworth said...

Thank you, Lindsay. I definitely agree that some time away from a manuscript can really give me some objectivity. I hope to someday read a picture book about you walking the duck!

Jennifer Kirkeby said...

Lovely post, Lindsay! I am getting back to a manuscript that I put away for a while, and it has helped put a fresh perspective on things. Thank you!

Lisa Connors said...

Great to hear your voice again Lindsay! I have taken several of your tips to heart. Thank you!

Cheryl Secomb said...

Thank you for your inspiring post, Lindsay!

Lauri Meyers said...

LIndsay, that was a whimsical post that somehow transported me to a higher plane of picture book thinking. Thank you!

Kirsten Larson said...

I hate it when I get to the part in revision when I realize I need to do more research. Argh!!!!!!

Juliana Lee said...

Talent, Luck, Relentlessness, and Timing… so NOT incompetence, misfortune, laziness, and instant gratification? Got it! :)

Catherine said...

Thanks for the encouragement Lindsay. One of my picture books is almost unrecognisable from how it was at the beginning of the week but I now need to wait and sit on it for a few months. I'll try and be patient!

Danielle Dufayet said...

It's true ideas do come often out of the blue. The trick is to know which one to pursue. I agree, it's the ones you can't get out of your head. Wishing you continued success!

Tamara said...

I LOVE that time really is your friend with stories. I've worried that a story will get outdated or that simply ideas in the air will take it away... but with big fits of working on it and then shelving it... I have realized that there is something special about it and it has just been simmering. I'm now giving it a fresh start. Thanks for perspective about time and that if it keeps coming up in your head- it simply needs dedicated time and relentless work to take it forward.

Charlotte Dixon said...

Your post is significant to me. I snatch ideas from many places. Those that stand out get my attention. I put things aside and come back much later. Your encouragement is greatly appreciated.

Heather Gale said...

Love your post Lindsay, especially about the time - it's such an incredible sensation when you pick up the ms again and it's not the nightmare you thought it would be !

Eileen said...

Thanks for your post Lindsay.

Sue Poduska said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing.

Jackie Wellington said...

I love the confirmation, "we're all talented." Thanks for the post. It was refreshing. :D

Cindy Williams Schrauben said...

Love this, Lindsay. "Letting it sit" is one of my favorite pieces of advice - for others, of course. LOL It really does work, I'm just not that good at actually doing it. Thanks for the post.

Cindy Williams Schrauben said...

Love that!

Monica Lauscher said...

Lindsay, your advice on time is just what I needed to hear. I have to be more patient, set my stories aside, and take that "fresh look".

janelle said...

Thanks!

Julie Segal Walters said...

I put a ms away for more than a year. Picked it up recently, and put it way again. :-)

Joanne Sher said...

I TOTALLY need to put my stories away. I COMPLETELY needed to do this with my "first" one (which I am revising, with a whole new perspective, right now!). Great reminder.

Julene Kinser said...

Thank you, Lindsay.

Cathy Mealey said...

"Revisions are excruciating and, at the same time - so very pleasurable." Indeed, especially when we have inspirational daily guest posts and encouragement from everyone on the ReviMo Team! Thanks Lindsay.

Joanne Roberts said...

Thank-you. Maybe that is why today's revision has been fairly successful. I finally found the story arc in a rambling bunch of notes (aka first draft) from last January. I don't usually have the patience to wait that long, but this file got a little lost. Lucky me!

Julie Beturne said...

I totally agree with putting the book away for a long time because it's hard to take a fresh look each day. Thanks!

Tracy Molitors said...

I definitely struggle with the inability to see my manuscripts through fresh eyes. Putting them away fro a while is a great idea.

Laurie B. said...

I totally agree that falling in love with your character is key to knowing what stories are worth pursuing. The ones I love best are ones I don't mind spending hours with every day regardless of how good the writing is!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

The time rule is essential, but so is paying attention to those little hunches. So often, when my critique group points something out, it is something I've been trying to tell myself wasn't really a problem!

Heather Greene said...

Some days I would like to put them all in the drawer! Thanks for the advice, Lindsay.

Ronna Mandel said...

I just love kids' book people. This post was so validating for me that I am doing the right things. A writing recipe of being relentless, relying on a little bit 'o luck mixed in with very good writing, and maybe a few good connections will make things happen. Top that off with talent and timing et voila, a two book deal!

Carrie Finison said...

I totally know that feeling of agonizing over a single word. And love the cute puppies on Lindsay's book covers. :-)

Keila said...

I too obsess over that ONE SINGLE WORD. Sometimes I can't fall asleep or wake up and it comes to me. Had to keep paper and pen on my bedside table to capture them. The thesaurus is my best friend!

Christine Irvin said...

Thanks, Lindsay!

Angela Turner said...

I appreciate a lot about your post. I especially appreciate the encouragement to keep going forward. I do obsess over single words sometime, but more often it is whole sentences and paragraphs. Anyway, thank you for the post today.

Stephan Stücklin-Wightman said...

Great advice toward the end of this week! After all the revising, letting the manuscript sit for a while sounds like a wise idea.

Doris said...

Very helpful advice regarding story ideas. Thanks!

Margaret Greanias said...

i agree! Time is the best for evaluating pb ideas and manuscripts. Thank you for the reminder.

Shannon Baunach Anderson said...

Love the post! You have lived in a lot of places! That definitely gives you a lot to write about in itself. :) I do find it hard to put a story I love away, but it is so true about seeing it with fresh eyes. I have looked at buried manuscripts months later and laughed at how good I originally thought it was! Thanks.

Pam Brunskill said...

I met Linsday Barret George when she spoke at the Bloomsburg University Reading Conference several years ago. She told me that I could write--that little bit gave me the encouragement to keep trying and working on the craft so that one day I will actually be successful. Thanks, Lindsay! And, thanks more good advice today. ;)

Nina said...

Lindsay, this is so encouraging. Thank you. I feel good about the fact that story ideas come to me that way as well. They sometimes run me over. lol

shiela f said...

I have enjoyed the posts this week, but this was my favorite. A lot of what Lindsay said, spoke directly to me. Thank you for pointing out some things about myself that I fail to recognize.

Julie Rowan-Zoch said...

First my revision, then my comment, then my 'copter ride! Lindsay picks up ideas just like I do! Sometimes seems like branches that smack you in the face while flitting around in the forest!

Sue Frye said...

Another revision, and I can see it coming together now! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Lindsay!

Wendy Greenley said...

Relentless is my new favorite word. It sounds ominous, but is exactly what I need to be with some of my story ideas. Thank you!

animalauthor said...

I always let ideas peculate in my brain for weeks and then decide if the brew is strong enough to carry a book.

Judy Rubin said...

Thanks to your suggestions, I listened and watched quite a few people today and gained some fascinating insight.

Dawn Young said...

Inspiring words. Thank you!

Lindsay Bonilla said...

I resonated with so much of what Lindsay had to say. Maybe that's because we are both named Lindsay! Just today while in the thick of revisions, I stepped away from the computer to do something else for a few moments. In those moments, an idea came to me out of the blue. It was all I could do to race back to the computer and get it down. Those moments are priceless! I also resonate with the need to set a manuscript aside for awhile and see it with fresh eyes. So true!

Ramona said...

Great advice by Lindsay! I look forward to reading my manuscripts again after they have been put aside for a while. Seeing them with fresh eyes again is so important and so useful. :-)

erin@chickenbabies said...

Thanks for the encouragement!

Rena Traxel Boudreau said...

There is some truth to that. I've looked at some stories after they sat for awhile and thought nope and other times yep.

Janie Reinart said...

Lindsay, I love when ideas come when you least expect them! I agree that persistence is key! Thank you for the post!

B Baird said...

What great suggestions once again! Thanks so much for sharing and being so positive!

Lisa Rivard said...

Lindsay is so wonderful! And brilliant! I love the info about time...let it simmer..

Laurie J. Edwards said...

Time is such a good way to judge ideas and mss. Thanks for posting, Lindsey!

Charlotte Gunnufson said...

I love the idea of ideas coming to me rather than me coming up with ideas. Today was a tough day for me in terms of writing, but that happens.

Stacy S. Jensen said...

Great tips! Thank you Lindsay! I just finished with my manuscript and I think I have to sleep on a few words. I cut it by 50 percent. Thanks.

Teresa Robeson said...

I can tell Lindsay likes dogs…LOL! I know you're supposed to put away the ms for a while before revising, but that's a good idea about putting the idea aside before deciding to use it. I was a revising machine today. Re-wrote a whole lotta stuff.

Kristine P said...

I always have an impossible time putting manuscripts away that long!

teresa m.i. schaefer said...

Thank you Lindsay Barrett George, I've tucked a few manuscripts away.

Mike Karg said...

Well said!

Stacey said...

I am finding revisions to be excruciating...I hope I reach the pleasurable aspect soon! I like the advice to step away from ms for a while before reviewing.

Lauren Kerstein said...

Ah, relentless is a great word! Yes, you must be relentless, extraordinarily patient, and rather flexible in order to create a story that will stick in all of the right places. Thank you for your great post!

Vivian Kirkfield said...

Thanks so much, Lindsay! What great advice and encouragement! I'm glad that relentless is one of the character traits you feel is crucial...my husband says I am the most tenacious person he has ever met...and he's had a little bit of experience...we've been married over 46 years.:) :)
I so agree that ideas jump out at you and you'd better write them down...I hear snippets in songs on the radio...or in a conversation on the grocery line. Filing them away as a possible picture book...good thing we have a 1900 sq ft unfinished basement...lots of room for all of those slips of paper.:)

Pamela Courtney said...

Okay, so I went back to a draft I wrote/started two years ago. It has changed directions a few times. After giving it "fresh eyes" I can see how those different paths have added a unique flavor. Didn't like the initial taste of the piece. Now I can see where it is going. It now reads like a chapter book. Grateful!

Rachel Smoka-Richardson said...

Thank you for sharing your process!

Damon Dean said...

Lindsay, thanks for sharing about how you approach your writing (Or rather how your ideas approach you!) I'm learning time is the factor, as you stated so well. Most of my revisions this week have been stories about a year old, that have been 12 x 12 drafts resting in sweet digital sleep. Some had been wakened and shaken once or twice, and they still needed improvement.
Thanks, and thanks Meg for hosting such wonderful posters for us.
Got my draft done...it was probably my worst 12x12 2013 pb draft, and now is vastly improved.

Dani Duck said...

From this I take it I should cross my fingers and just submit. :) I always tend to put my manuscripts away for long periods of time before I edit. Sometimes unintentionally, but it works out for the best.

Ping Wan said...

Thanks for the advice: Keep the faith and write the story that no one else can write.

Krista Mcmorran-Maus said...

Thank you for sharing, Lindsay. It was good advice.

Nata ArtistaDonna said...

thank you for a fantastic post!

moonduster said...

Thanks for sharing a terrific post. :)

pennyklostermann said...

Thanks so much for the tips and inspiration! The "time" element is so important. I want to rush stories...but they won't allow it! I'm sure they'll be better for it.

Hannah Holt said...

Yes, TIME is the most important factor for me. If I still like a manuscript after I've put it down for a few months, I feel like it's ready to submit. I usually can't tell if it's good or not in the middle of a rewrite.

Deirdre Sheridan Englehart said...

I like the idea that I can write like no one else!!
Thanks for the inspiration!

kathyberman said...

"Be totally original"-- is exactly what we must strive for. Everyone has a story about a dog or a cat, but our stories have to have that twist that no one else has. Thanks for an interesting post.

Lisa Willard said...

Lindsay, thanks for your post!
I'm being relentless. :)

Lynn Anne Carol said...

Great advice, Lindsay. It's true, you have to love your character. And, always expect the unexpected.

Blanche Baxter said...

So inspirational, thanks for the excellent advice, Lindsay. I am feeling the pep talk! :-)

Nata ArtistaDonna said...

this post is loaded with inspiration!!! thank you

Lindsay :)

Heather Brinkerhoff said...

Thank you. Getting a common thread, here!

Bitsy Kemper said...

I love the "ideas come to me" -- forcing things to work never pans out, does it? Thanks for letting me see your thoughts and insight.