January 7, 2009

Easy As Juggling Chainsaws

I told someone I know that I write children’s books and that I’m being published, only to hear the offhand comment, “Hey, I should do that.” Now this comment came from someone who has never written anything more difficult than a shopping list.

I’d encourage anyone who was seriously considering writing for children and was willing to learn the craft. But what annoys me is the misperception some people have that writing for children is easy.

I just finished a rhyming picture book that weighs in at about 510 words and is currently in the process of being critiqued. I had to create characters; create a plot; squeeze all the elements of a story into 510 words; make sure everything makes sense, oh yeah, and make it rhyme. So now you throw rhyme and meter into the mix.

Then, after all the work you put in writing and rewriting the story; going through the critique process; rewriting again; researching the different markets and submitting the story, there’s no way to really tell the effort finally be rewarded. I was seriously writing and submitting my work for four years before I sold my first story. It was four and a half years before I received my first book contract. That’s a long time to be receiving rejection letters and to wonder if you’re just wasting time.

So writing for children is easy… about as easy as juggling chain saws. However, if you want to learn to do it well, and you don’t lose any major limbs in the process, it can be very fun and rewarding.

Thanks for letting me rant.

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