I once laughed at the thought of writing anything but picture books. It was early in my teaching career when I taught first grade and I found myself immersed in them. During my day, I incorporated them into lessons, picked favorites for read alouds, and helped recommend a good story during library times. Finding timeless picture books became like a quest for me.
Naturally, when I sat down to write, the stories I crafted were picture books. The talented authors; Kevin Henke, Jan Brett, Maurice Sendak, Eric Carle, and countless others created stories so rich and lively, it was a joy to read and reread them. How hard could it be to do the same thing?
Unfortunately, I soon found out, you can’t sit down and whip up a children’s book like you would a cake. There is an art to building a character arc, creating relatable characters, and rhythmic dialogue, rhyme, or prose that leaves children begging to hear the story one more time.
While I never gave up on picture books, I decided to try something longer, a chapter book. This stretched beyond what I was familiar with. After spending months drafting my story, I knew I needed help. A writer friend told me about her experience with a writing coach, and I followed in her footsteps.
Working alongside an expert in the field, gave me tools and wisdom I couldn’t gain working alone. When we toiled all the way through my story and finished, I had one more hour of time remaining with her. What can you do with that?
Determined to keep going, I turned to writing a magazine article. Again, I found myself embarking on a new adventure. As it turned out, my coach taught magazine writing. With that one hour of time, she showed me the essentials for writing an eye-catching article.
I submitted my article she coached me through and got a nibble. This sparked an interest in me. I submitted other articles and one day received an email with the response I longed to hear. An editor wanted to acquire my work. Success! And in a place I least expected to find it.
When I first started my writing journey, writing for magazines never crossed my mind. Neither had writing a novel. But never, say never.