As I mentioned in my January 9 post, comments on a picture book can sometimes be extensive. And remember how I said “Like any good editor, she left the details up to me”? And that my first attempt was a bit lacking? It was. But a part of me thought, “I’m leaving room for the illustrations.”
Right. I had to finally admit that I didn’t know what to do. I’d been flying high on a few picture book manuscripts (this one included) that kept clicking, with “perfect” ideas coming to me left and right. It was exciting! Exhilarating!
And I expected it to kick in during the revisions and it didn’t. When I read her comments and re-read the manuscript…I got nothing. No inspiration. No ideas. Nada.
And then I got a few pokes and nudges and made some changes, except for the beginning, which remained flat and uninteresting because I was still at a loss (and pretending I was leaving room for illustrations.)
So I sent it to my agent first, begging for help. And because she’s brilliant and generous, she asked specific questions, gave me concrete examples, and got my brain going in the direction it needed to go. (When the book is published I plan to share specific examples and progress here, in classes, or both so you can see the progress of the revisions).
After a few false starts, things started to come. Suddenly I was excited and exhilarated again! I worked on it until I was satisfied and sent it to my editor on Friday. If the next phase could be helpful to you picture book writers, I’ll tell you about it in a future blog post.
Moral: Explore your motivation and if you’re stuck, ask for help! Another set of eyes can be invaluable in helping you see alternatives and directions. I always recommend writers in the same genre as you or professionals who know the genre – in this case picture books. And trust that you’ve got the stuff and that it will show up.
I so enjoyed your presentation at the SCBWI meeting last night. You were awesome.
Thank you so much, Jane! It was a fabulous group with a lot of creative energy. I LOVED being with everyone and hope I can come up again – either with another presentation or to bask in the expertise of another presenter :-).