A few weeks ago, on a Monday at the breakfast table, my three-year-old, Calvin, requested the “Hey, diddle, diddle” nursery rhyme. I obliged, but I was distracted and accidentally skipped over the cow who jumped over the moon. Calvin immediately protested, and an idea popped into my head. What if the cow had some opinions about how the rhyme was written?
Immediately I thought about Bottom in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Bottom, despite being the lead, thinks he should play all the parts. He takes it upon himself to coach his fellow actors i and demands a series of prologues be written. He’s quite an atrocious actor who thinks he is hot stuff.
Thus, an idea was born. My husband and I teach at the same school, so that morning while it was his turn to drive, I feverishly scribbled my first draft onto a pad of paper.
Then the strep throat hit, and I was completely incapacitated. I spent three feverish days on the couch or trying to teach and having to leave school early. The fever made me feel like I was having an out of body experience. On Friday morning, I got antibiotics and by the evening my brain function was returning. I took out my paper draft and typed it up.
I took it to my picture book critique group on Saturday morning. The feedback was strong, and I decided to move forward with it. I went home and revised my draft during nap time. I worked on my query letter for the next few days and then I sent it out to 10 agents.
This was only my second round of querying, but it felt smoother and less daunting than the first time. I am now less scared of the process. Wendelin Van Draanen, (who wrote The Running Dream, our all-school read) came and spoke at an assembly a few weeks ago. She said that every time she sent out a manuscript, it was like putting hope in the mail. I took what she said to heart, and thought of it as hope in the (e)mail.
I also felt happy that I was able to take another piece of advice: as soon as you send out one project, start on the next. After I wrote my first picture book manuscript, I didn’t really have any other ideas, or none that were feeling fully formed in my head. But, by staying open and paying attention, I was able to start the next project.
Now that I have send out my second picture book manuscript, I am going to turn my attention back to my women’s fiction novel. I think that maybe at the end of this draft, I’ll be ready to start querying. I’m looking forward to that. More than just querying, I’ve got an idea for a middle grade novel that I’d love to get started on. I’m looking forward to freeing myself up for another project!