Kid Lit Dish

Kim's Magical Journey Into the World of Children's Picture Books

FINALLY… On Loosening Up

Well, here it is “tomorrow” and I’ve actually got another post!  Wow, two days in a row after two weeks of nada… from the sublime to the ridiculous.  (THAT one’s for my hubby, who can’t stand that phrase!) 😉

Those who know me know I love tennis.  Well, I may not be AS passionate about it as I used to be, but I do think it’s a great sport and when I’m feeling “on,” I love to play.

And those who love this game can always come up with comparisons of how tennis is a lot like life.  (Probably a lot of sports can say that, but tennis is one of those unique games in that it ultimately IS about you and you alone.  Unless you’re playing doubles, you’re really all alone out there… a team of one.)  There are a myriad of analogies out there.  Just Google “Tennis and Life” and see for yourself.

And there are other little nuances of the game that can be analogous to the real world, such as the fact that you can be the best in the world, but if you lack confidence in your abilities, you probably won’t be successful.  And one subtle change in your thinking out there on the court can shift momentum from your side to the other, or vice versa.  It’s truly 80% mental.  Again,  just like life.  Believe in yourself.  Set goals.  Work hard.  Success!

But it drills down from there.  And that gets me (finally!) to my point for today and that is that when you’re nervous playing a real match, you’re going to play what the pros call “tight”– meaning your forearm (your whole body, really) will be stiff.  If your arm is tense and not loose, it’ll react against the ball in a completely different (read: not good) way.  It’s an almost guaranteed error or fault most of the time when you’re hitting.  And that’s how matches are lost.

I was thinking about this today when I was thinking about writing and drawing.  I know when I started this whole process, I wanted to be so precise with everything.  So I wouldn’t even write down one word until I had the entire story outlined.  And I wouldn’t draw a picture without making sure my lines were smooth and straight.  But that was doing nothing to improve either my writing OR my drawing.

So now instead of these precision drawings (that invariably all ended up cartoon-like), I’m drawing nothing but these rough sketches and really trying to focus on GESTURE.  And two weeks ago, I wrote a pure-prose PB manuscript that I’m really happy with… in one day.  (“Precision”-me wouldn’t have been able to do that!)  Granted, this past Saturday was spent in a first round of revisions for that sucker (I had to get away from it for two weeks… to really see it for what it is) but I do believe there may be something there.

So I leave you with this: No matter what you’re doing– if it’s a picture book, an illustration, a poem… whatever– don’t THINK about it so much. Loosen up a little.  Leave all your inhibitions in the ethers and just DO what flows from your fingers and brain.  See what comes out of that kind of freedom.  I’ll bet you anything some really good stuff awaits.

Enjoy the day, everyone!

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Catching Up (and STILL Loosening Up)

I have SO much to write about and so little time… First off, I want to mention that one of my picture book pitches will be “airing” today on author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog for her Would You Read it Wednesday (WYRIW) feature.  I’m excited to see if any of Susanna’s followers WOULD actually read the book, based on the pitch alone.  Check it out on her home page.

And I’m especially looking forward to the feedback because of something that Mary Kole told me about that very same pitch recently.  That’s right– Mary Kole.  Literary agent extraordinaire, blogger behind KidLit.com (with tens of THOUSANDS of followers) and now published author of the hit new guide for children’s writers, Writing Irresistible Kidlit.  I’ve written about her in previous posts, but have kept her somewhat anonymous.  Well, I can officially tell you that it’s Mary who has helped me tremendously with my writing.  AND she also took a look at my near-twenty PB ideas, written in synopsis and/or “pitch” format.  And one of them, dear friends, was the pitch found on WYRIW today.  That’s why I was a major PITA for Susanna… because she already had a different pitch/different book set for today… and I switched gears on her at the 11th hour.  (Sorry again, Susanna!)

I’m going to leave you in suspense about what Mary said… he he he.  More on that, along with some of the things I’ve learned from her, in a future post.  (Hey, suspense is part of good fiction writing, right?  And that INCLUDES the world of picture books, of course!  So sue me!)  🙂

Mary’s not the only one who’s been helping me.  As many of you know, I’ve been writing a lot of rhyming stories lately, and I sent the one I felt the strongest about to none other than 1 Zany Zoo author Lori Degman!  Lori is a true expert on rhyming and meter… and she gave me some great insights and advice on how I can make that particular manuscript much better.

For the record, both Mary and Lori offer freelance critiquing services–  I’d recommend both of them highly. (Check them out at MaryKole.com and LoriDegman.com.)

Something funny happened as a result of taking the advice of both Mary and Lori– I went into serious revision mode… but what I ended up with is a completely new, completely different story with an actual theme, unique (yet not) conflict, and a strong central character.  I started out by trying to flesh out the original character more… and the rest kind of wrote itself.  I’m not completely finished with this one, but I’m really happy with where this one’s going.  No, scratch that.  I’m really excited about this one!  My goal is to wrap it up and start submitting to agents at the end of this month.  (Yikes!  Is it already November 14th?  Hmmm… maybe I’ll make that deadline end of the year!)

This post is getting long– I’ll save the rest (more about loosening up) for a later post.  Maybe– gasp!– I’ll post it tomorrow!

Happy Wednesday, All!

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Design Of The Picture Book

Welcome to Design of the Picture Book! I'm Carter Higgins, and I'm a writer and librarian for kids. I spent a spectacular stint as the Children's Book Editor at <a href="http://www.designmom.com/">Design Mom</a> which I loved! You can find my column <a href="http://www.designmom.com/category/childrens-lit/">here</a>.<br /> I'm a K-6 librarian, a former-ish graphic designer, an SCBWI member, and a huge fan of words and pictures.<br /> Represented by <a href="http://www.rpcontent.com/">Rubin Pfeffer of Rubin Pfeffer Content, LLC</a>.

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