Happy Children’s Book Week!
Recently I met someone who told me writing was easy (in particular writing children’s picture books). He is not a writer and as far as I know has never written anything creative.
He said that he could write a computer program to write picture books. He would have three words on each page, and it would be a book…or that’s what he said. While he might sell some copies on the novelty factor, there’s a lot more than word count that goes into a story.
I remember the summer before my junior year in high school. Back then I thought writing was easy. Or at least it felt easy to do. I don’t recall ever specifically thinking, “This is easy.” I just wrote because it was fun and pressure-free.
I wrote nearly a dozen of my Captain Codfish “novels” that summer. I would have written more, but I was busy dealing with family stuff that last few weeks of summer vacation.
We didn’t have a computer, and my mom’s old typewriter was reserved for school projects only, because ribbon and paper cost money. So I wrote each story by hand on notebook paper.
I wrote 10 pages each day.
My mornings were spent helping my parents with chores and such. After noon I would write for a few short hours until I completed my 10 pages. I don’t really remember the writing process now, but it must have been mostly stream of consciousness building toward the ending in my head. After writing, I would spend the rest of the day reading, watching tv, daydreaming/brainstorming, and relaxing in general.
I planned for a week break in my schedule when I reached the end of each “novel”. Of course after only a couple days of “break,” I would grow so bored that I always started writing on my next story before the end of my planned break.
I made sure each novel was 100 pages – because I thought that was the length of the average novel. My main reading resource was the classroom libraries of English teachers, so my estimation of what was normal was skewed toward middle grade and young adult genres.
The genre of my stories began as adventure and ended up a mashup of treasure hunting, adventure, and fantasy before the end of the series. The style of the books often changed depending on what books I read/reread, especially when school started back and I had access to more than my small collection of books.
Part of me wishes I could go back to those days when writing was “easy” and pressure-free. But my writing is a thousand time better now than it was back then. Recently I saw a quote about how we are born with love, but we learn fear. Is writing harder because the pressure, fear, and reality of being a writer grow as we age? Or is it because we were blissfully ignorant of the quality of our first youthful stories, and once we can see the quality, we strive harder to write the perfect words instead of simply letting the story flow?