This past November, I finally found the courage (and motivation) to grab the tiger by the tail. I remember that tiger when it used to be a cute kitten a long time ago, when I had thoughts of writing picture books when I was a kid. A few years ago, the kitten grew up to a full-size cat, constantly purring in the back of my head, “do it, do it…”
This past summer, that darn cat turned into a bobcat, constantly bouncing ideas around my brain, challenging me to taking a picture book online class and getting things moving, rather than just talking about them. I ended up creating a 32-page draft (text and illustrations) for my first picture book. These were my draft characters, by the way.
By the end of the class, I got busy with other priorities and shelved my book draft. I haven’t looked at it since then, even though it’s reached the editing phase. Yes, it’s quite pathetic, and so the bobcat started to growl more often.
Fast forward to mid-October, when the buzz about PiBoIdMo 2013 started going around the blogosphere. I wanted to participate last year and somehow missed the boat. A few weeks ago, my bobcat grew into an uncontrollable tiger and I knew I had to take the plunge once and for all. So I signed up for the Picture Book Idea Month challenge, wondering how the heck I would come up with 30 picture book ideas in 30 days.
I’ll admit, it was hard some days. I would look at my notebook and realize I didn’t write anything for a few days, and I wasn’t sure I would add anything. But then an idea would pop up, and then another, and another. I also found a wonderful and supportive community of people just like me at the challenge’s Facebook page. Oh, and let’s not forget to mention that I had wonderful inspiration from my kids (and great support!). Can you guess a lot of my book ideas have a ninja theme?
And then, 30 days later, I got 30 ideas, yeah!
Are all of my ideas brilliant? Of course not, but that’s not the point. The point was that I set my mind to doing this challenge and putting myself in a children’ book author’s shoes for 30 days. And you know what, it felt great! So how many good ideas do I have? After flipping through my notebook, I’d say a few. My youngest came up with a non-fiction book idea and a genius title on our drive to school one morning (thanks, buddy!), and I can’t wait to do some further research on it. My kids got so excited about another book idea, they asked me to start writing the book right away! Needless to say, they were very disappointed when I told them I was only coming up with ideas during the month.
But I bet they’ll be excited about what’s coming up in January! I’ve decided to sign up for Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 picture book challenge, which involves writing 12 full manuscripts in 12 months, with the option to submit to agents every month. Argh, did I just say that? I’m terrified at the idea of taking this huge plunge but honestly, this is the only way I’ll find enough motivation to dedicate some time and let the children’s book writer inside me finally come out. I write for businesses every day, so this will add a great balance to my life. For way too long, I’ve wished I would turn the ideas I have in my head into picture books, and didn’t. 2014 sounds like a great year for a new adventure.