Writers often talk about the story of their heart... the one with subject matter, words and emotions that they are most passionate about and yearn to express.
Miller and my dear friend,Tom
I have such a story. I have been working on "Adopting Kitty"since 2017. That's right folks...
Five years! It is a story about Intergenerational friendship, based on my many experiences "adopting" several 90+ year old Grandmas and Grandpas and our visits together. These years have been filled with some of the most meaningful moments in my life. Truly. I have laughed and loved, celebrated and cried. And I wouldn't have missed a moment.
Today, October 3, 2022,
almost exactly 5 years to the day my first draft of "Adopting Kitty" was written...
I finally have a draft I can move forward with.
My dear friend Don and I
So... why did it take so long to get a draft I am happy with and ready to polish?
To begin with, contrary to popular belief, picture books are not as easy to write as some may think. Averaging about 500 words, you must crank out your first draft and then spend MANY hours over many months (and yes, in my case- years!) revising, deleting and rewriting to get it just right.
I must interject, that most of my manuscripts don't take that long to come to a better place. A place where I really like the beginning, and the often elusive ending seems to be working; where the story arc, tension and pacing are very close to being right and with some work I will be ready to submit.
Most of my picture book stories are fiction with characters that I created. With no printed directions on where to take them. I am free to create any setting, plot twist, resolution my little brain cells can think of. And believe me, I have one I am writing now that has had my husband in stitches at how my mind works :)
With my parents becoming ill, caring for them, and then planning their funerals, I had to prioritize. If I am honest, all I was going through was a big distraction and not putting me in the headspace needed to write a picture book. AND. THAT'S. OKAY.
Baby Hadleigh meets her new friend
So? What's different about this story?
I think the reason it has taken so long is ...
that I care so much.
This story needs to be in the world and I am longing to have it published and promote its message.
It is also based on a true story that is very emotional to me.
My first drafts took a funny and clever look, but never really got to the core of what was so very meaningful to me - THE EMOTIONAL HEART - The Grandmas and Grandpas, the love we grew to have for each other, the simple moments we shared that were priceless.
I have loved each of them (Don, Carolyn, Ron, Phil, Tom, Scotty, Bea, Vinnie, Gladys and Sylvia) and their loss has left an indelible mark on my soul. I feel obligated to honor them with each and every word.
For that reason, it was important to take the time that it was going to take. Let the words and feedback simmer in my file for a while.
I am grateful to my friend, Julie Bliven and Andrew Young (both editors at the time) who each critiqued my work and pointed out things I couldn't see. Their feedback, along with that of my daughter Erica Leigh as well as other critique groups, began pointing me in just the right direction.
Then it was simply a matter of
B. I. C.
(Butt in Chair)
I am drained, but I am elated and feeling optimistic that I am one step closer to holding "Adopting Kitty" in my hands. I am ready for its next critique on October 12 and will be waiting with fingers crossed for their comments. Gotta love being a writer!
I'll keep you posted :)