I’ve always loved children’s books, especially ones that stimulate my imagination. I believe books can take children to magical places. And, it seems to me, children can go places that adults can’t because their minds are still open. My first ever writing project was a middle grade fantasy novel. Why? Because that’s what I liked to read most, when I was a kid.
I started writing, and I started researching what it takes to become a children’s author. (I’m still working on both of those). I scrolled through endless author posts hunting for that gem of wisdom that would boost my writing to bestseller status. But I haven’t found it. So, if you know what it is ... please tell me.
A competition caught my eye, a picture book competition. I’ve always loved picture books but I had not a clue how to write one, or even how to write a short story for that matter. Somehow I wrote a story, submitted it, and was shortlisted in the competition.
‘This is easy,’ I thought. ‘I’m a natural.’ I consulted a manuscript assessor, worked on my story some more and sent it off to publishers. What followed was a bidding war – they all wanted to publish it. And after that first lucky break I was propelled to picture book mega stardom...
Oops, I've drifted off into dream world, again.
Actually, no one wanted to publish it.
I couldn’t understand why, it had been shortlisted in a competition hadn’t it?!
It took me a while to realise there’s a whole lot more to a good picture book than a good idea. I discovered I had a lot to learn about the craft of writing.
Now that I'm slightly wiser I know writing is an evolving thing. I may not be there yet, but I’m improving, and in the meantime the writing itself gives me enormous pleasure. I hope I never get to the point that I’ve finished learning.
Sadly, none of my picture books have been accepted for publication by major publishing houses (yet). That single word ‘yet’ makes me feel more optimistic.
Sometimes, I feel down about the rejections, but I try not to dwell on it. There have been a few rays of light – I’ve published short stories for children in magazines and journals. Each time I get an acceptance it buoys me up and keeps me writing. And, I'm working hard on revising my middle grade fantasy novel.
If you’ve read all the way to the end, here’s my gem of wisdom: success is a magic brew of years of hard work, a sprinkling of talent and I hate to say it, a pinch of luck.