Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Anybody Can Write A Children's Book

Sure, it's simple, writing for kids . . . .
Just as simple as bringing them up.

--Ursula K. LeGuin

Nobody likes to be minimized, and one common complaint of children's/YA writers is having to cope with comments to the effect that our job is easy.

Let's trace the source. Easy tasks are often described as "child's play." Children, teenagers and the people who devote their lives to them are undervalued in mainstream society. Unfortunately, a few really lacking children's/YA books are published and these (too) often fall into the category of "push" books. Plus, any number of people project onto artists their own fears, insecurities, or jealousies.

It's, if I may so, an easy put-down to say something like:

"When are you going to write a real (adult) book?"

"Oh, she's just a children's writer."

"My little Brandon is the best writer ever. I know he could write a better story than any book on the shelves today."

"How long can it possibly take to write eight hundred words anyway? How fast do you type?"

These are all actual examples, and they're not my most egregious.

Here's the thing, it's understandable to feel frustrated, annoyed, whatever you're feeling.

But don't let anyone convince you that writing about children or teenagers, or for children or teenagers, or having the courage to go after your dream makes you somehow inferior.

Spend more time with other children's and YA writers, readers, librarians. Pick up a good book and marvel at it. Challenge yourself to improve your craft.

After all... You value literacy, right? Education? Books? Children? Teenagers? The future? Wonderful prose? Inspiring art? Story? People who make their dreams happen? You know how hard it is to write well, don't you? Did you use up all that ink and paper for nothing?!

Okay then.

Cast off that sinking feeling. The Annoying One is wrong. You don't have to own their ignorance.

Chin up, sweetpea. Let's see that smile.

That's better!

Remember, the magic is in you.

Cynsational Request

If you can recommend any high-interest, low reading level books for fourth to sixth graders, please write with those suggestions.

Cynsational Links

Flipping Pancakes With A Shovel: Crafting and Promoting Compelling Books for Babies and Toddlers by Hope Vestergaard from her author Web site.

Layering Powerful Voice To Create Memorable Characters by Margot Finke from The Purple Crayon.

One Writer's Journey: writer Debbi Michiko Florence's March 15 entry is in response to my recent blog about Writing, Fear, and Gender.

Page By Page: Creating A Children's Picture Book from the Library and Archives: Canada.

Picturing Books: A Web Site About Picture Books from Denise I. Matulka.

Telling The True: A Writer's Journal: Jane Yolen's March 11-12 entry talks about revision and offers some perspective on rejection, too.

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