The Hard Part
Three years and a couple of months ago, I wrote my first children's book and I was off and running. I was enthralled with getting ideas and fascinated with words and concepts and amazed that I could actually write a book. A real book! I would get an idea, or think of a phrase or get a picture of something in my head and I would sit down at my computer or scribble in my notebook and a book would appear. It was magical. I would flip through my rhyming dictionary and see the words blue, shoe, glue and have an epiphany and soon I'd have a little manuscript about blue-shoe-glue.
It would completely suck, of course, because I didn't really know what I was doing. But boy, was it FUN. Ignorance is bliss, you know. I would send it off to my critique groups and daydream about it selling within weeks of submitting it anywhere because it was soooo good and sit down and write another book. But along the way, I started learning about the business and what makes a GOOD manuscript and I had to face the reality that my "genius" manuscript was not only NOT going to sell in weeks, but would never sell. And it really wasn't all that great either. Sigh.
It's much harder now. I have hindsight. I know that that blue-shoe-glue manuscript may be fun to read and well-written and unique, but that's not enough. That book has to mean something. It doesn't have to teach or preach (in fact, please don't!), but it needs a universal truth to it, it needs to resonate with the audience, have meaning for them- it needs a reason for being, so to speak. And that is the hard part- to blend the fun idea that I can't wait to write with something bigger. And of course do it keeping all of the conventions of the genre in mind- a certain number of pages and words, good pacing and strong plot, illustration potential and the right details, rules of three, read-out-loud language, repetition, the senses, true dialogue and voice and on and on and on.
I want my stories to sell and to become books which will mean something to the people who read them and the children they share them with. I want my books to make people laugh and make kids beg to hear them again. So even though it's harder to write now and the process takes me longer and I get more frustrated, ultimately it is also more rewarding. Because when I finally DO hit on the right mix of universal truth and fun, it still feels like it did in the beginning- magical. AND it just might get to be a book someday.
Okay, back to writing...
p.s. No actual manuscripts about blue-shoe-glue were ever written. The true subject matter has been changed to protect the innocent :)