In junior high, I wanted to be a comic strip artist. I loved creating characters and dropping them into embarrassing situations to see what words came out of their mouths two panels later. But I kept hearing how hard it was to sell new strips so I thought I’d try something else. What a mistake!
In high school, I dabbled in many genres of writing except children’s books and poetry--children’s books because it never occurred to me, and poetry because I hated it. The first piece I wrote that was published (in a high school anthology) was for a creative writing assignment giving animal qualities to a person. Mrs. Feeb resembled a cow, from the way she chewed in circles to her stocky body and hip-hugging muumuu.
In a college English class, we were asked to write about an event in our childhood that seemed magical. I wrote an essay called The Magic Jacket. The professor told me it was one of the two best pieces he’d read that semester. Of course, writing for children still didn’t occur to me as a creative outlet.
Then I took a class called Children’s Lit. Appreciation (because my mom had taken it and told me it was an easy A). When the required reading list landed on my desk, I was so excited. Bridge to Terabithia!--my favorite book as a child and the only Newbery book that kept me awake. I was so happy to be required to read it again, as if anything had stopped me before. For our final assignment, we had to do something…anything…involving children’s literature. I wrote two picture books and got my easy A. Plus, I found what I loved to write. I sent one of those manuscripts, The Chalkboard Drawings, to Houghton Mifflin and got a request for changes back. I made those changes and got a request for more changes. I made those changes and got a form rejection letter.
Over the years, my hopes have been raised many times. To see them not realized just as many times can be crushing. But I’ve learned so much over those years. Most noticeable is that I’m addicted to pain. And I guess that’s what this blog is about.
I shoulda stuck with the comics.