Hello friends and fellow bloggers, especially those from the Slice of Life Story Challenge hosted by http://www.twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/. This week’s children’s book passage comes from a childhood favorite, Paddington:
“Now,” said Mrs. Brown, “you must tell us all about yourself. I’m sure you must have had lots of adventures.”
“I have,” said Paddington earnestly. “Things are always happening to me. I’m that sort of a bear.”
Reflections: I read the above passage on Friday and immediately wrote it in my “ideas for blog” notebook. I didn’t know what I was going to write about, but I knew “I’m that sort of a bear” had to be shared- if for no other reason that when I read it, I thought, “Am I that sort of a bear?” It took two days before I was able to answer that question.
On Saturday, I drove to Milwaukee to spend time with my niece and nephew and to volunteer at a book festival for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (http://www.scbwi.org/). Even if you’re just thinking that maybe someday you might write a children’s book, you should join SCBWI. The Wisconsin chapter has been extremely helpful (https://www.facebook.com/SCBWIWisconsin). Writing a book can be an emotional battle. It is fun but challenging, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the industry. From talking with my fellow writers at WI-SCBWI, I know I have a lot to learn but knowing I have a group of kind, talented writers and illustrators to help me along the way makes all the difference.
I left the book festival on Sunday feeling energized. I discovered many books by fellow Wisconsin authors and illustrators (http://www.scbwi.org/Resources/Documents/2013_FALL_RELEASES.pdf) . They are all great, but I’d like to recommend three in particular: Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zeitlow Miller and illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf is on my way to my niece as I type. Janet Halfmann’s story and Betsy Thompson’s illustrations in Eggs 1 ,2, 3: Who Will the Babies Be? are so sweet and soothing, you will wonder why you don’t read a picture book every day. Finally, Open This Little Book by Jesse Klausmeier and illustrated by Suzy Lee should be bought by anyone who loves to watch a child learn to love reading. In addition to the inspirational books, I felt more ready to face industry challenges after speaking with Sandy Brehl (author, blogger at http://unpackingpicturebookpower.blogspot.com/, and extremely helpful publicity coordinator at WI-SCBWI).
While making the three hour drive home after the book festival, I was thinking about Paddington and came to a conclusion: I am a Writer-Bear. And just like Paddington, I don’t want to be just any Writer-Bear; I want to be the sort of Writer-Bear who has lots of adventures. This is what I have come up with thus far to ensure a writing life full of adventure:
- I want to write, write, write. I am a Writer-Bear who has lots of ideas and lots of books in me, and I want to enjoy writing them throughout my life.
- I will be a happy Writer-Bear. I will not get caught up in the often long and frustrating road toward getting published and instead focus on my love of writing. Ultimately, the goal is for people to experience the joy of reading our books, of course, but there’s a whole lot of joy that comes before that stage that I don’t want to overlook.
- I will be a productive Writer-Bear. I will edit like crazy. The goal is to edit four chapters a week. Sarah will help with this, which is reason #1,201,789 why it’s great to write a book with someone. I will also keep adding to my “ideas book” for future books.
- I will be a social Writer-Bear. I am not naturally social. In fact, I think it is hard work. Over the next year, I intend to somehow feel at home in the worlds of Facebook, blogging, and Twitter (see our links at left). I look forward to connecting with you, learning from you, and sharing my enthusiasm for kids lit and writing in as many media as I can wrap my mind around.
I also realized that I have other Bears in me that I’d like to foster. My Daughter-Bear wants to think of a truly spectacular way to celebrate my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary next summer. The Aunt-Bear wants to see my niece and nephew every couple of months, since I finally live close enough to do this. Plus, my imagination pales in comparison to theirs, so they are my most fun source of inspiration. I’m also excited to welcome my new niece to the world in December. The Girlfriend-Bear wants to find ways to make Matt happy that he won’t expect (I will make him like birthdays!) and help him start a new business.
I have other important Bears in my life, but those are a good start. What kind of Bear are you? Are you the sort of Bear who has adventures? If so, please comment below. As I learned from joining SCBWI, sharing your ideas and goals with others can be the spark that motivates you to be an adventurous bear like Paddington.
The Jane Martyn Writing-Bear process. Step 1: We have an idea! Step 2: It’s great! Let’s figure out how it will work. Step 3: This is so hard. It doesn’t work! Step 4: Wait a minute, it works- we can do this!