You’ve got to write a children’s book!
I wrote a story about a puppy who could think and talk like humans. It was to fill a twenty-minute time limit given to our writing group during one of our sessions. When my turn came around, I read my story as if I was the puppy. I’m a drama queen and at the age of 70 I still consider myself a happy-go-lucky, 12-year-old girl. Of course now, I have fifty-eight years of experience. Story finished, I looked at my captured audience. The Librarian stared at me with wide eyes, along with the other mouth-gaping listeners in the group. “You’ve got to write a children’s book!” burst the silence in the library and gained volume with each person’s excited agreement. That joy in seeing those people smiling and giggling in amazement, and encouraging me to continue my puppy story was the turning point in my writing. I cannot say career, because I don’t write to make money. I write because I discovered I like it. I think it makes people happy and, at the least, entertains them. I have all the proof I need from that one writing session at the library. That so warmed my heart that I could not now stop writing if I was paid to do so.
So I continued. Furiously writing, the words flowed from me like the flood-waters of a broken dam. I’d bring my next piece of the story to the writing session and everyone would give me their gut feelings, plus grammar and spelling errors which I neglected to check. I was hooked. I loved writing. Still do. And it felt easy for me. I just turned myself into my little puppy and did whatever I felt like doing. It was fun.
After writing around a hundred pages of puppy adventures, I realized that in order to turn this pile of paper into a book, something needed to happen after the writing. I had no clue. My writing group at the local library only had experience writing a few articles published in magazines or newspapers like an editorial. None had written or published a book.
I surfed the internet like my life depended on it. Any derivative of the word “write” got pursued. My eyes were at the point of blurring when I clicked a link and pop, Florida Writers Association stood out in bold letters, beckoning me to follow. I did, and, after reading all the opportunities they offered, became a lifetime member in about one week.
From that point on, I learned. Like a sponge, I absorbed anything and everything anyone told me. The editing, the critique groups, book covers, reviewing, writing acknowledgement pages, synopses, queries, manuscripts, getting illustrations, publishers. What seemed like a whirlwind of knowledge and information was crammed into four years of time. Yes, because of FWA and its gracious, friendly and helpful members my children’s book took only four years from start to finish. And that’s just the beginning.
Su Gerheim is an award winning, and three-time finalist in FWA’s Royal Palm Literary Awards competition. She’s been the Coordinator of FWA’s Collection contest for two years. Join her for an in-depth workshop that includes guideline definitions, submission information, and how to make your entry the best it can be.