"Stories rarely jump onto your computer screen in finished form. They evolve, evolve, and evolve again. That's one of the pains and one of the pleasures, of writing." --Ann Whitford Paul
What are you reading at the moment? For me, it's not YA, and not even middle grade, tho the book I'm now querying is targeted for that age. Nope, I'm reading picture books. Might that have something to do with the company I kept this summer? The trips to our library's children's hour, the books I read to those little ones? Not to speak of the times that three-year old Angelica picked up a book and "read" to me herself--a special experience in and of itself!
But thanks to Carla over at Carla's Writing World, I was reminded of a book on writing I have that got shelved and nearly forgotten: Writing Picture Books, by Ann Whitford Paul (2009). Carla's post prompted me to not only start reading Paul's book, but to pull some of my long-forgotten picture book drafts out of the file to review, reconsider, and maybe--just maybe-- revise and submit.
And so I confess I've been immersing myself in the child's eye view of the world found in picture books, and--happy to say--reworked a picture book manuscript of my own, had it critiqued by my writer's group this week, and now have it ready to go out in tomorrow's mail.
Am I spreading myself too thin, what with querying my MG mss, plotting a second book, and exploring ideas for other things? I don't think so. After all, we writers merely need to look at one example--Jane Yolen, author of over 300 children's books. On her website recently, she wrote: "This is what I usually have out making the rounds at any one time: single poems to anthologies or journals or magazines, maybe as many as half a dozen. Short stories if I've been asked for them...Picture book manuscripts (as many as 20) going to particular editors who's editing style I admire and who's lists appeal to me. Usually between 3-8 novel proposals...While those take their long winding paths through the thorny publishing woods, I am at work on the books under contract. So I don't have to worry if what I have making the rounds takes its usual snailing way. I always know what my next day's work will be."
"And most important," she adds, "by spreading out the variety of things I can do, I am fad-proof. Yeah--I may not be the latest flavor of YA or kids's books, but at 72 I don't expect to be."
I'm breathless just reading about her accomplishments, her workload, her goals. Makes me want to explore all those subjects and ideas that have held my attention all these years. No excuses now. Age shouldn't stop us, if our creative fires are continually stoked!
So may we continue to play with words, create, open our minds to possibilities, expand our horizons--and write.
How many projects do you have going at the moment?
(p.s. My favorite Jane Yolen books? Take Joy, A Writer's Guide to Loving the Craft, and Dimity Duck, which is a darling picture book!)