I write lies and other fun stuff.
I’m glad you’re here to take another journey through my mind, and into my writing life. Yesterday I sent one of my babies out into the world of publishing. Over the last two years I have alternately picked up Peter’s Pet Wash and let it rest.
Why? Because like a baby, it needed time to grow, it needed time to become what it could be. When I first wrote it it seemed perfect. I loved the lilting poetry that it is. I could read it perfectly.
I introduced it to the family, my kids at school. It still sounded pretty good. The kids liked it too. They love any story that rhymes, and especially ones their teacher wrote.
I took my baby out in public for the first time to the real critics, my critique group. Their job is to tell me what I need to work on to make it better and they do a really great job. They weren’t so kind, although they loved the story. They gave me feedback. The rhyme wasn’t right in a few places. They loved a section that I thought sounded too Dr. Seuss-ish. I wanted to defend my work, to save my baby from harm. Instead I put it away for a time. It needed a nap.
I got busy writing, revising, and editing both Don’t Kill the Opera and Crossing the Raging River, two women’s fiction novels I have written recently. Then yesterday I pulled out Peter’s Pet Wash. I read it through and decided to change the rhythm errors and the stilted errors and take out the Dr. Seuss verse. I reworked it until it shone.
Then I gave it the ultimate test. I had my husband read it aloud. He’s a great reader because he doesn’t know what’s in my head like I do, even after all these years. He stumbled over two places. I fixed them and then I was ready.
I spent hours researching which agent to send it to. There are many agents but only a few want to bother with picture books. That’s not a criticism, just the truth. See, picture books take as much attention time as regular books, but with a far smaller financial return. Thankfully there are some agents that like picture books in spite of the lack of pay. Then I saw that one of the ones I wanted to send it to didn’t want rhyming text. I finally found an agency with an impeccable reputation that would represent picture books. I wrote the query letter, and included what the agent wanted.
The second I pushed ‘send’ I took a deep breath and started the hardest part: Waiting. Will that agent love my baby? Will they see the wonderful illustrations that I wish I could draw but can only see in my mind? Will they hear the giggle of the small listener as his daddy reads this story to the child at bedtime? Will they hear the little one say, “I want to see the bear, Daddy.” I don’t know.
My baby is now out on his own. And I wish I could protect him from rejection. I’ve done my part, the best I could do.
And so I say, “So long, Peter. Impress the agent with your pet wash.”