Ever heard of a board book?
They're made of hard cardboard (hence the name board book) and they're aimed at children aged 0-3. Basically, they're for parents to read to their infants and toddlers -- and for babies to CHEW ON!!
If you're a regular reader of this blog, you will know that I write mostly for pre-teens and teens. So, imagine my surprise when, in May, an editor at my publisher Orca Books contacted me to ask if I was willing to write a board book. One hundred words on a topic that I can't disclose because it's still top-secret. Of course, I said YES.
You probably think one hundred words on some undisclosed topic is a snap, right?
But I knew it would be tough. That's because I have friends who write board books.
I started in May. As I often do, I worked on the floor in my little home office. I spread out notes all around me, and I started writing. I have to admit that when an unfortunate tele-marketer happened to phone, I SHOUTED AT HIM.
But I kept writing for two days straight. I thought my first draft was pretty excellent. Then I sent it to my friend and fellow author Rina Singh.
Rina, whose first book was a collection of poetry, made some great comments. When you only have one hundred words every word counts.
I worked some more and sent the manuscript off to Orca.
How hard can it be to write one hundred words?
Crazy hard. As in the hardest thing I have ever done. Harder than writing a 30,000 word manuscript!
I wrote -- are you ready? -- NINE drafts of the project.
Still, my friends at Orca didn't think I had it quite right. I suggested that maybe they should FIRE ME!! But they said, "No, we believe you are the person for this project. We believe that you will get it right."
And so, on a recent trans-Atlantic flight, sitting next to my daughter Alicia, I re-wrote the story for the TENTH time. Special thanks to Alicia, for her input and suggestions -- and for putting up with me while I read the story over and over and over again. Even our seat mate, a man with mutton chop sideburns (he's another story altogether!!) was forced to hear my WIP (that stands for work-in-progress).
And guess what? That tenth draft of my first board book?
It worked. You'll be able to read it to a baby in spring 2018.
The moral of today's blog entry: you can do it even if it's hard. Even if it feels IMPOSSIBLE. All you need to do is fly to Europe -- and never ever EVER give up.