From the Child Within

11 Mar

This weeks favorite comment was from salsanpeeps:

For me, it’s wearing a purse and going to a library meeting as well…. actually, it’s playing catch. watching star wars. eating breakfast for dinner. picnicking on the living room floor. playing with nerf guns. the smell of spring. mini golfing. matchbox cars. putting all the blankets on and hiding under the covers. playing with mister’s toys. 

I’m glad I didn’t have to vote.  Mary’s answer was also great and very poetic. It will be hard for me to think of my own answers now…

Andrea Brown, President of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, once said,”The best children’s book writers are not people who have kids, but people who write from the child within themselves.” Sounds easy right? Writing from a kid’s perspective? After all, things were simpler then.

Things may have been simpler then, but that doesn’t make writing for children simple. It is so easy to lose touch with the child within: the child whose voice a writer needs to capture to produce something other children would want to read. I would know.

When I lose touch with my inner child, it stands out in my writing. My authorial voice becomes like a big bully pushing its way into a draft. That big bully once wrote “annoucement-worthy” in a middle grade chapter book. That same bully wrote “gnawing” in a picture book for children under the age of six. The worst part is that the authorial voice is so sneaky I often don’t notice the intruder’s tracks. A writer’s group and careful revision helps sniff it out, but not as much as preventing it from sneaking in in the first place. How do I do that? By staying in touch with my inner child. Doing things that make me feel like a kid keeps that voice talking from within, or at least helps the authorial voice keep quiet long enough to hear it.

What makes me feel like a kid? My (by no means complete) list:

park swings
an ice cream cone melting in the summer heat
the first flowers in spring
wishies (dandelion puffs)
a good knock-knock joke
fruit with juice that runs down your arm while you’re eating it
a food-dyed blue tongue
dangling my feet in a body of water–especially when it is super cold
scraping icing off a cake with my finger and eating it
the ocean
lying in the grass
the feel of the sunshine on my skin
the first day of school

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Posted by on March 11, 2011 in Inspiration and Ideas


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