Welcome to DAY FOUR of our 5th annual NAPIBOWRIWEE (National Picture Book Writing Week) 2013 where we try to write 7 picture books in 7 days!
We are officially at the HALFWAY point of this marathon writing event where we are trying to write 7 picture books in 7 days. Day Four is the make-or-break day. If you can get through this day, you can definitely survive the final brutal days of this event! Hang in there, everyone! WE CAN DO IT!
Since Day 4 falls on a Saturday – most of you have the day off. You might have some social obligations, house errands, or family duties, but at least it’s the weekend!
BUT… HOW TO AVOID FATIGUE AND BURN OUT?
ANSWER: Find a new place to write! Get out of your comfort zone! Write at the museum! A library! Your favorite coffeehouse! A fancy hotel lobby! The park!
My favorite place to write when I get burned out at home is at the Beverly Hills Public Library. They just remodeled the children’s library – it is BEAUTIFUL. Here’s a link where you can see some videos of the breathtaking renovation: http://www.beverlyhills.org/exploring/beverlyhillspubliclibrary/childrenslibrary/
And here’s a great blog with some photos of the children’s library remodel: http://redtri.com/los-angeles/kids-and-parents-weigh-in-on-the-new-beverly-hills-childrens-library/
I understand the burn-out, fatigue, and depression and frustration that can take over during Days 3 and 4. This NAPIBOWRIWEE event can get brutal. Writing 7 picture books in 7 days is a RIDICULOUS IDEA. LOL! 🙂 But again, it’s just to celebrate writing and disciplining ourselves to WRITE EVERY DAY NO MATTER WHAT. Who cares if some of the 7 books end up in the recycle bin? The whole point is that this is a writing exercise that will hopefully result in a rough draft that COULD have the potential to become a future publishable book. Or a magazine article. Or a really cool blog. Or it could inspire a better idea down the road. And so on. You don’t know unless you try.
I am passionate about getting everyone to write every day because I WRITE EVERY DAY. I have to. I’m a professional writer. This is what I do for a living. I started out as a full-time newspaper reporter (The Seattle Times and The Detroit News) before going to magazines (PEOPLE Magazine). Then after almost ten years of journalism, I got my MFA in creative writing and started pursuing novels and children’s books. During that time, I also fell into TV drama writing. So since 2002, I have been writing full-time as a book and TV writer. I write. all. the. time.
Not everything I write works. A lot of it ends up in the recycling bin. But learning to write every single day has helped strengthen my writing skills. It’s like being an athlete and exercising every day – you build up a lot of stamina. Because you need stamina in this brutal creative industry filled with rejection, rejection, rejection. So I’m trying to help everyone learn how to write every day no matter what so you grow as a writer! 🙂
So how did my Day Three go?
MY DAY THREE EXPERIENCE: Today was ROUGH. I had another work meeting that was very far from my house, so yes, I was caught in L.A. traffic for most of the day. AND it was unseasonably warm – almost 95 degrees in the Valley! Once again, I didn’t have a chance to start working on Book 3 until after dinner.
Instead of a writing a book from scratch this time, I decided to use research for a feature spec screenplay that I’m currently working on for a picture book. My feature spec is a biopic (biography). And since my three published picture books with Lee & Low Books are biographies, it hit me that this historical subject would also make for a very good picture book. So I started writing a biographic picture book.
The end result? Not bad! It’s a little long but the basic structure is there. And the bonus? I sort of now have a rough outline for my script! YAY! Once again… NAPIBOWRIWEE WORKS! 🙂
Now, on to our Day Four Guest Blog Q&A about The Future of the Picture Book with YA novelist and debut picture book author MARTHA BROCKENBROUGH (http://marthabrockenbrough.squarespace.com). Please post a comment about today’s blog and/or let us know how your progress went for Day Four! 🙂
(Keep reading after the jump for our Q&A with Martha Brockenbrough!)
GUEST BLOG – DAY FOUR – MARTHA BROCKENBROUGH
Martha Brockenbrough is author of THE DINOSAUR TOOTH FAIRY (Scholastic/Arthur A Levine 2013), DEVINE INTERVENTION, a YA novel, and two other books for adults. She’s also the founder of National Grammar Day. Her debut picture book is THE DINOSAUR TOOTH FAIRY (illustrated by Isreal Sanchez). Her website is here: http://marthabrockenbrough.squarespace.com
Q&A ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THE PICTURE BOOK WITH MARTHA BROCKENBROUGH
QUESTION: Do you think the rise in popularity for the eBook will help or hurt the future of the picture book? As a writer, when you work on a new book, do you think about how it will “read” on an eBook reader as well?
ANSWER: So far, the rise in popularity of e-readers has meant that more people are reading more books. This is a good thing, even if it’s hard for those of us who love the printed book to envision a future that might be entirely digital. I’m in favor of pretty much anything that gets more people reading, although I don’t see the printed picture book going away anytime soon. They’re just too beautiful and it’s just too cozy. Kids love devices, too, but a parent would have to be nuts to think the glow of an iPad is going to help a child fall asleep. So those will be stories for another context. At this point, I’ve only considered digital enhancements for one manuscript—the least narrative one I’ve ever written. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. The page turn is still a really effective way to add suspense.
QUESTION: There have been many “Boy Who Cried Wolf” articles in the media recently about how picture book sales have declined as anxious parents try to push their students into reading chapter books instead. Why is it important for children to read picture books? What makes a picture book special as well as important for a child’s educational growth?
ANSWER: I actually feel compassion for those parents who are so caught up in their kids’ academic performance that they forget that pleasure is a huge component of learning and practice. In other words, if you don’t like doing something, you’re going to spend a lot of energy resisting it. It’s about the worst-case scenario for intellectual development. I feel even sorrier for the kids. Yikes. That said, we live in a highly visual world. Picture books help kids make sense of visual and textual information. Kids should spend a LOT of time with them before moving on, and there’s no reason to abandon them entirely. People who can process visual information and convey information visually will have a huge advantage as adults. Also, there’s no better way to make a child feel loved than to drop everything and read. Picture books are the first seeds of this kind of love that we plant.
QUESTION: Many aspiring picture book writers are discouraged by the doom-n-gloom reports of the declining book industry (Big Six mergers, lower sales of picture books, more emphasis on the writer-illustrator as opposed to the solo writer). What words of encouragement would you give to these aspiring newbies to NOT give up?
ANSWER: At the end of your life, are you going to care how much money you made writing picture books? Or are you going to care that you helped a child fall in love with reading and understand the world a bit better through something you created? Yes, this is a frustrating, difficult, slow, and sometimes lonely process. But there’s no better way to spend our limited days than trying to make a child laugh, wonder, and understand. That’s what we do. Everything else … the publishing process, the money, is a sideshow.
QUESTION: What challenges do you face as a published author of picture books in these volatile times of the publishing industry? Have you noticed a change in your career in terms of what agents/editors/readers want?
ANSWER: It’s incredibly hard to get a toe hold. I’m in the process of selling my second picture book, but it just takes a long time and requires a lot of patience. I do think the appetite for characters who can be turned into franchises is big and getting bigger, and this requires a different way of thinking about things.
QUESTION: Any final words of advice or any epiphanies you would like to share with us about your own writing/art journey?
ANSWER: Read a lot of picture books. Buy a lot of picture books. Keep creating, and don’t give up on yourself. It’s a subjective business, and the better you get, the better chance you have of finding someone who loves that unique thing only you can bring.
Thanks again to Martha Brockenbrough for answering our Q&A for Day Three!
In the meantime, good luck writing today. Please post any comments below for today’s blog with your thoughts, questions, and writing updates. You can follow me on Twitter @paulayoo. Please feel free to use this HASHTAG – #NaPiBoWriWee
I’m off to write! Until tomorrow’s blog, remember… HAPPY WRITING! WRITE LIKE YOU MEAN IT! 🙂