Since half of my world is about writing, I figured it was time to blog on that topic.
‘Bout sums it up. Okay, not really, but it’s been that kind of week. I’ve been working on a few manuscripts this week, trying to improve my ability to fully capture a child’s voice. (Unfortunately, I’ve learned that my own kids are not good examples of how kids talk. My own kids seem to be good examples of how adults should talk. “Mom, I recently learned that it’s not proper behavior to pick your nose at the table,” said Mitzi. She’s seven. Seriously.) Not that my kids are geniuses or anything (well, duh, of course they are), but it seems that they’re not the norm.
So I’ve been working on that. Lately I’ve started with fun titles and tried to carve a story from that. Writing picture books is a whole lot harder than any of you suspect. Imagine, you have at most 500 words to create the same kind of story arc as you would in longer writing. You need simple, succinct language that is at once rhythmic and lyrical. You need to have an engaging, realistic main character who gets into lots of zippy situations, and finishes the 32 pages with a whiz-bang (that last is what an experienced writer told me recently). You have to accept that your illustrator (whom you don’t choose and in fact will likely never meet) will tell a large chunk of the story, since most of the picture book readership can’t actually, you know, read. So you have to think and plan in pictures, though you don’t in the end draw them.
Then you have to compete with the other 893 writers who have submitted to the same publisher that week.
Most picture books take about 2-3 years to write well enough to seriously submit to publishers. Getting acquire by a publisher could take another 2 years. Then, expect another 1-2 years before you see your book on a shelf.
Clearly, not the biggest money -maker in the writing biz.
But it’s my new passion. When you consider the dexterity and talent required to write a picture book well, it’s amazing.
I think I have potential, but I have a lot to learn. Luckily, I’m surrounded by people who love nothing more than to cuddle up with a good book.