It’s funny, last week I was up shivering instead sleeping, and my very first picture book manuscript came to mind. From like five, six years ago. I’d abandoned it, but then there it was, talking to me. A day later, I spent the morning with a notebook, re-imagining it and the thing got completely rewritten, cut in half, totally changed in tone and direction, just like that.
And now, it feels like the kids’ book I want to have in the world. Another project I ‘perfected’ for two years and have sent out feels suddenly bleh, like I don’t really believe in it. I am no longer in love with it. But this old, new one: love. I feel like I found my voice, which is a lot more like the voice of my short stories for grownups. And more like the voices of my picture book heroes (I aspire).
I think one key thing is that my other PB projects have been in a kind of cutesier, funnier, snarkier tone. Which is great, but maybe not my personal first language. I’ve figured out that, for me, children’s books need to put forth a dark, but hopeful vision of the world. Not unlike fairy tales.
Like I can let them be a little melancholy, as long as there’s some measure of hope in the end.
I just watched The Social Network (five stars) for the first time yesterday. Things happen fast now—the big ideas, the billions, the biopics. But not so for me and my small ideas. Sometimes they take six years to get around 500 words. And then still have to wait for someone else to believe in them too.