Saturday, July 28, 2018

Be your own fish kettle...

My mind is a bit of a holey sieve right now. I had a big creative burst which kicked off with me writing a junior novel last year over May - October, and then a flurry of new picture books over the first six months of this year. Now I am an empty vessel again, although I am plodding along with an old project currently backtracking to get an asthma inhalor into the shorts pocket of my main character in the first half of the book so he can whip it out to help another character in the second half. Fun and games. Really, this creativity thing just has a mind of its own and a complete lack of discipline. Sometimes I think I'd like it to get its act together, but fear what things would look like if it did. Weirdly I think (at least for me), the 'fits and starts' school of writing has its merits. I write when I've a mind to, don't beat myself up on the days where the word count does not budge an inch, and give myself plenty of opportunities to read and recharge the creative battery in a variety of ways (oh and earn some actual money doing visits and workshops etc., as well). I've come up with some interesting stuff this way and occasionally, in the past, publishers have agreed. Some folk write every day and are immensely disciplined and it works beautifully for them, but I am a completely different kettle of fish. However over the last few years, as the goal of publication has been a bit of a slippery sucker, I have begun to wonder if I should empty my kettle and do some fish rearranging. Well, unsurprisingly, my process has proven pretty stubborn. And when I look at the things I have written in the last 15 months I am not unhappy with them. That's a good place to start as a writer - satisfying your own expectations and desires as a reader.

Still, satisfying oneself is only part of the aim, and chasing the mighty publishing goal never changes. If you thought getting published was the only hurdle to clear, staying published is apparently an endless supply of them. Each time you jump one, the next one is being raised off in the distance. Welcome to the publication race for life. You have to keep running. Don't lose your rhythm or forget to watch where you are going. Seriously, it's never a dull moment. 

Anyways,  it appears I have successfully jumped a few hurdles cleanly, and a few of my more recent projects are to be books (there is even a wolf in one of them!!!! - a long held ambition), so there is a brief stretch of clear track ahead. Yahoo!! Those fish can rest easy in their kettle - I won't be bothering them, at least for a wee while.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Do you want to write children's picture books? Do I have a deal for you...

I am really excited to be delivering my full day 'Writing Children's Picture Books' Workshop again on Saturday August 18, from 10am-4pm, as part of Selwyn Community Education at Selwyn College in Kohimarama, Auckland. I'll be telling participants everything I know about picture books: about writing them, about finding an illustrator, about the picture book audience, about what to put in and what to leave out, about preparing and submitting your work for publication, about the children's writing community in New Zealand and a whole bunch of other useful stuff which will help you in your journey to becoming a picture book writer. You can register here. Feel free to ask me questions about the course in the comments section below.

If you are wondering why I am running this course - I've had seven picture books published over the last 12 years (see my booklist in the menu above), several of which have been finalists and award winners, including my most recent, Fuzzy Doodle, (illustrated by Donovan Bixley) which was shortlisted for both the Russell Clark Illustration Award and the Picture Book Award at the 2017 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, was a 2017 Storylines Notable Book and is a 2018 White Raven Book as selected by the International Youth Library in Germany. Fuzzy Doodle has also been published in Australia and in twelve countries across Asia. I also write junior and YA fiction as well as children's short stories, and have a BA in English Literature and a Diploma in Children's Literature. I have successfully delivered this course over the previous two years and I love writing, and reading, children's picture books. I hope you'll come along.