The Picture Book Comes Home

I was finished. Finally finished with my first children's book manuscript - a 55-verse children's poem. I had worked on it for weeks - whenever I could - and among the torn-out, stapled spiral pages, and the jots on memo and used printer paper, the semblance of the work took shape. It asked to be assembled, collated and edited to form. Yes, really, it was supposed to be longer (unbelievable) but since I'm one of those writers that edits as I go, it seemed to find its own composition.

Here's a snapshot of my persistent scribble. It's funny, I like to doodle and draw in both pen and pencil, but I don't like to write in pencil, only in pen (hence, the mess). Pencil puts an unpleasant drag on the paper, while the perfect pen with the ideal tip produces a lovely productive scratching noise against the page. I just realized that now.

Woobie Bear draft image

But I digress. Getting back to the 55...I thought, "What kid would last through 55 verses of anything?!" Even if there was a promise of candy or a toy or a puppy at the end...or even a nap in the middle...truly, this was like Tolstoy for a toddler. But it had to come out, and BE. So I let it write itself, and name itself "Woobie's Gift: A Lyric for Children".

After researching the proper formatting required to submit to publishers, I typed the full manuscript in Microsoft Word 95. I still have the original printed copy. Such a little furry packrat I am!

And sentimental! Boy, am I sentimental. I have favorite excerpts of some things I've written; I dote over them like a proud parent. I think anyone who creates shares that same feeling...there's a piece of you embedded in every intellection and it's a challenge not to protect it - put a bubble around it - and shield it from the world...while at the same time, wanting to share it with everyone. This inner conflict feels like the tough love of a parent for a coddled child when the parent doubts their own skill and struggles to come to terms with the fact that their kid is spoiled rotten and they caused it all. Maybe the kid isn't spoiled, though...maybe it's just a phase? Maybe s/he'll turn out okay? ...a bit of a love/hate affair, isn't it? We can be so proud, so pleased - and that gives us the motivation to craft another message - but so critical when it doesn't pen. It slaps us down when we approach arrogance, that critic within us. It deserves its own post, but I won't give it consciousness here.

Woobie Bear colored pencil sketch

Anyway, here's my favorite excerpt from Woobie:

"To see the many shapes in clouds

To sing your favorite song out loud

For somersaults and flower chains

To hear the music of the rain."

Funny when I look back to see how Woobie manifested in colored pencil. This one and only sketch of him I saved with the other character sketches, and with the manuscript, in a manila folder, in the file cabinet. At that point, I wasn't really sure what to do with it next. Again...55 verses?!

The other ideas that came afterward I jotted down in a spiral notebook, just as scrawly as the Woobie draft. My subconscious guilted over Woobie: two-dimensional but alive, cataloged and ordered to the cabinet. He didn't deserve to be there. And if it were up to me, he wouldn't be there much longer.

Have you ever written or created something you cherished? Share your story below!

#illustrating #childrensbooks #writing #publishing #manuscript

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