Like many of you , I have looked over many sites looking for information on how to either self publish or gain the interest of a publisher. I really thought by now I would have had it figured out. My goal was to have a completed project in hand by the end of my summer vacation. I truly believed it was a reachable goal. But how could I have met this goal with an indecisive mindset? It’s truly frustrating. In order to keep moving forward, I had to think about what was holding me back.
When I begin writing my picture book, I visualized each page, it’s drawings, the medium, and whatever else a finely illustrated book would entail . I knew exactly how I wanted the characters to look, what they would be doing, and even their facial expressions. In my head, the cover was breathtaking. I had written the story and I wanted ownership over everything. I didn’t believe that another person would understand my characters, their stories, or my vision.
Am I an illustrator? No.
Can I draw? Preschoolers seem to think so. Flowers, stick people, shapes, and smiley faces. All very basic, of course.
Paint? I’m proud of the fact that I’m pretty good with a box of crayons and a coloring book.
I’ve concluded that I’m gonna have to let go. I’ve read that many authors struggle with letting go. What are my choice so far? Either seek a publisher and not have any comments in the illustrations or self publish and drive some poor illustrator (probably a friend) mad. I have to trust that the illustrator knows and sees more than I ever will. That’s their gift, not mine. So my next step is to write the queries that are in need of writing and send the manuscript. I’ll sit back and trust the process.
Drew a picture of my family for the preschoolers.
In one of my college classes, the students had to think about the first memory of reading in a classroom. In this post, I’ve decided to share my first memory of creative writing. Now much of my childhood years are a blur. I attribute it to my nose constantly being in a book thus ignoring the world around me. If I wasn’t reading, I was thinking about reading. However, there is one memory that is special to me. I don’t remember the grade or the teacher, only that it was early elementary and the teacher was a male. I’m also bad with remembering names. Well, this nameless individual stimulated my interest in creative writing. We learned about the “Oregon Trail” and each student was instructed to write a report or maybe even a paragraph about what we had learned over the course of the lesson. I decided to do something different and created a fictitious journal written by a slave girl named Sarah. Sarah was traveling with her slave master in a covered wagon. I imagine it looked a lot like the one a certain little girl and her family rode on in one of my favorite television series as a child. In this journal, Sarah wrote about her fear of Indians, being raped by her master, and her longing to return to her mother. Why was I writing about such topics at a young age? I believe it was because my love of reading introduced me to some dark historical facts very early in life.
When I had completed writing Sarah’s journal, I decided that I wanted the papers to have an old rustic look. I turned on the oven, placed each sheet inside until they browned, careful not to set off the smoke alarm. I then poked holes in the sheets of paper and carefully tied them together with a few pieces of yarn. I had written my first short story.
In the end, I’m not sure if the assignment was given a letter grade, a star, or a smiley face, but I do remember the teacher approaching my desk and saying,
very good. My wife also liked it.Hold on to that
He also mentioned something about liking what I had done to my paper and that I was very creative. Sadly, my family moved around so much, I lost trace of Sarah’s Journal.I don’t think I’ll forget the rush I had then. It’s the same feeling I have now when I write.
My interactions with children over the years has given me a ton of ideas for writing. It has also shown me the need for more multicultural books in classrooms and homes. Children of all shades and ethnic backgrounds have the right to sit in a classroom and listen to or read books that have characters that look like they do. A few years ago, one of my African-American (not a fan of the word “black”) female student was staring at another student’s hair during circle time. The next day she told me that she hated her hair and wanted longer hair like some of the other girls. This saddened me. I thought about my childhood and some of my struggles with self hatred. I let her know much I loved her afro puffs, the colorful barrettes, and the sound of the beads that she wore in her hair. This was my attempt to plant the seed of love for oneself in this beautiful little girl.
A few years later, I came across the book. “I Love My Hair!” written by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley and illustrated by E.B. Lewis. The students were fully engaged as I read the story. Seeing the smiles on the faces of two African Americans girls faces was a wonderful feeling. If only I had the book three years earlier. Heck, 40 years ago!!
Below is a picture of four of my students. One African American, two Chinese, and Caucasian. This is why I write.