I’m still here you know, it may not seem like it but I am actually still here. Writing as often as I can and still dreaming. Only now, after these last few months, I feel like the plans are becoming more reality. I’ve no book deal or agent as yet, but I do have many, many notebooks, an addiction to warm drinks and a whole heap of rejections – I think perhaps, therefore, I am as good a writer as many.
So where are we at? All the agents bar one have so far got back to me and said thanks but no thanks. One said, thanks but no thanks and keep on trying so I took that as a significant move forward… clinging on to the magic. I am now taking a different tack – sending stuff straight to the publishers. There are a lot of publishers out there who are happy to receive more manuscripts for their slush piles and I intend to populate them… just got to find a printer that can withstand the number of pages without paper jams, the ink running out, or a general malfunction due to overwork.
In addition, and to try and enhance my writing, I’m trying lots of different styles. It is this that gives me my biggest source of challenge. I recently read I want my Hat Back by the brilliant Jon Klassen – regardless of whether you have children or not, I urge you to read it. It’s gorgeous and possibly my favourite picture book of all time. Its presence makes the world a better place, world leaders should read it to gain perspective, News International should check out its integrity (oooh, topical), every home should have a copy – and I’m in no way exaggerating. Its simplicity is its real strength, and it’s the simplicity that I admire most. I seem incapable of writing simply (as this blog perhaps doth testify). Oliver Jeffers is another whose stories are beautifully simple – they may not appreciate my describing them as such, I’m sure that when writing them they aren’t thinking it’s simple – but for me, they are just picture book gold. My problem (or is it?) is that I find that style of writing impossible and yet that’s the style of writing that publishers want at the moment, understandably so.
So the question for me at this point is, do I force myself to practice practice until I can write like that, or do I have confidence in my own style of writing. A style that, at the moment I’m told is not edgy enough for print, and I understand that sentiment. The thing is, I really believe in it. I love those simple stories, but I also like to read stories that make me think, that make me feel full of love, or hope, or beauty or warmth. (not to say the aforementioned don’t do that at all). I’m less keen on sickly, twee stories (tho’ some may think that is exactly my style) but about stories that have truth and honesty in them. One of my stories is an adventure between a boy and his Grandfather. I’ve tried to make it exciting and fun, and something that inspires exciting illustrations, something as readable for girls as it is for boys, but it also – albeit unintentionally at the time of writing – has loss and love at its centre – too much for a picture book? Perhaps at the moment, the market place isn’t interested in this kind of story, in my style of writing, but I really feel like there will be a time and a place, and if I don’t believe in myself then who will believe in me.
I’m not the sort to wait around for chances and opportunities to present themselves or worse, even, pass me by. I’m more the sort to go out and make them (some might also describe that as a control freak). So whilst I may be quiet on here, I’m not so quiet out there.