A big thank you to Jackie Hosking for tagging me in this writing process blog tour, and for all the others who have gone before, and will come after me – it’s fun to ride the wave with others! Jackie is a a children's poet who is about to release her very first picture book called The Croc and the Platypus with Walker Books. Jackie is very well known in the children's writing industry as she the person behind the weekly e-zine 'Pass It On'. She also assists fellow writers of rhyme via her Rhyming Manuscript Editing Service.
Jackie's line: “I see the world in snippets, flashes, snapshots, I’d probably have made a very good camera” leapt out at me - I wish I'd thought of that! You can read all of Jackie’s blog here
And now for me...
(if I was clever enough I'd put pictures with this - but I'm still working on that...)
What am I working on?
This blog post – it’s the most creative I’ve been since my first picture book, When I See Grandma was recently released - I’m in overdrive promoting it and trying to work out the vagaries of social media and how to harness it for good (my book’s good, that is), and trying not to pull my hair out in the process.
Having said that, there are always formless ideas whizzing around my head and jotted on scraps of paper – some of them make it to the safety of my writing box, and some even manage to be written neatly into my notebook, if they are really, really lucky. One idea has taken the form of a dragon named Lucinda-Daisy with unusual traits. What she does with these traits is yet to be discovered!
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
It doesn't, it’s just as gorgeous as all the other picture books! But it’s not weird, way out, wacky and laugh -out -loud funny though (yet!). My current picture book reflects a stage of life that is rarely covered in picture books – when someone you love is unresponsive due to illness - and it speaks to both children and adults on different levels. My other writing projects are just as heartfelt (I think it’s the Social Worker in me) but lighter in subject matter.
Why do I write what I do?
I write because a snippet of something touches me on an emotional and/or imaginative level in some way and I want to explore it, stretch it, and see where it goes.
I write because I love the feeling of bringing form from the formless fragments in my head - it is a hard slog sometimes, but it is the next best thing to giving birth!
I write picture books because I simply love picture books – they are visually, linguistically and narratively appealing, and as I learned in Psych 1 – “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”(I don’t think my psychology lecturer came up with this idea himself!). As a mother I've seen the power these beautiful books have to speak into children’s lives, grab them emotionally and offer a shared framework for families to view and discus their world. Plus ...they are delivered with a cosy snuggle in bed and kiss goodnight – and what could be better than that??
How does my writing process work?
It starts with being ‘grabbed’ by an idea to be tossed around in my head. It's usually something I've seen or a turn of phrase that inspires me. The idea for When I See Grandma came from taking my daughters to visit my mother as she was declining with dementia.The current idea for Lucinda-Daisy came when I was playing with lego, and the name came from a friend's daughter - (not that I'm saying my friend's daughter is a dragon!!). When I know I’ll have a good slab of time to be uninterrupted, I sit down on a comfy lounge with paper and pencil, scribbling and sketching ideas. Sitting up straight and typing on a computer comes later – that’s the hard work (as is resisting procrastination), it's slow and laborious, looking for just the right word or combination of words – I can get lost for hours pursuing a word trail on Thesaurus.com, or drive my family crazy when I’m on a word hunt!
I get my best breakthroughs driving in the car. It’s just as well my car is a mess of scrap papers, torn open envelopes and the like, in fact, my car could double for rubbish truck.
Once I’m happy-ish with the first draft, I go in search of honest feedback – the family is no good for this, I have to look further afield to a writing buddy and/or submit to a competition that gives feedback. Then, when I find out that the end of my story is really the beginning - it’s back to rewriting! When I feel like I'm close to getting it, I send the next draft for more feedback - perhaps a manuscript assessment agency as I did for When I See Grandma. Then its back to rewriting until it's ready to be sent off to the publisher...
And now to introduce next week’s bloggers:
Judy Townsend is a children’s author whose writing career kicked off in her retirement – in 2013, three of her titles were published simultaneously: Evidently That's Not Normal, Chalk and Cheese, and How Do I Know? Her fourth book Off To Bed, Sleepyhead is with the publisher now.
Judy was the teacher librarian at Chittaway Bay P.S for 27 years, and she has the amazing honour of having the school library named after her - The Judy Townsend Library and Information Centre. Judy also loves speaking in schools about her books and writing in general. You can read Judy's blog on her facebook page, here.
Penny is the author of Hey! Is that how God made me? published by Youthworks. Her other books include DynaMites Music and Hey! Is that how God made fruit? Two more books in the Hey! series will be published in May. Her picture book Captain Sneer Who Feels No Fear will be published by Walker Books in 2016.
Penny grew up in Western Sydney where she trained as an Early Childhood teacher. When she isn't teaching Scripture in schools (SRE) or kids' church, running a music group or spending time with her husband and three creative kids, Penny squeezes in time for her other passion—writing picture books. You can find Penny's blog here
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