After my first two picture books were rejected I changed tack and started writing another ‘fluffier’ story. But that came to a grinding halt after a few days as I wasn’t feeling the love. (I’ll leave it simmering for a while and see if it wants me to come back to it later.)
I’ve now started a new picture book. My third. And this time it feels very different.
Here’s how it started:
A few years ago I drew a little bird character but couldn’t think of a story for him. So he nested cosily at the back of my mind and we said hello every now and then.
I had given up hope of a story emerging until one morning recently when I was sitting in bed reading and came across the word “tree”. My brain did a rapid word association and came to a profound conclusion…’Hmm…tree…bird…BIRDS LIVE IN TREES!’
OK, not exactly earth-shattering but it was all I needed because straight after this conclusion a whole story appeared out of nowhere (about a bird and a tree, funnily enough). I scribbled it down on the nearest bit of paper (I keep notepads in my bedside table for this eventuality) and I have been working on the story ever since.
When I say ‘working’, I’m aware this may conjure up impressive images of me hunched at the computer for hours on end. The reality is, I mull things over…purse my lips…gaze out the window…and actually physically put pen to paper/fingers to keyboard about once a week! (Some people get up every morning at 5am and write for 2 hours before work…I am not one of them).
This time I have taken a more simple approach: can I write a picture book in 300-400 words? The answer at the moment is yes, I just need to rearrange some of the words (like Eric Morecambe’s infamous piano playing – “I’m playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order”).
Interestingly, the process has been easier this time round. My first two picture books felt quite ‘laboured’; this one has been a heck of a lot more fun! I don’t know whether it’s the restricted word count, the story itself, or the fact that I’m simply more blasé third time around. Whatever the reason, I like this new feeling. I’m hoping it’s a good sign.