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Picture book month inspiration

This month, it's officially "Picture Book Month", during which published authors and illustrators discuss what it is they believe makes picture books important. It's also Picture Book Idea Month, during which more than 1,000 authors have signed on to read posts and try to brainstorm ideas for their own picture books.

Last year, I had 30 ideas within the first eight days. I kept them in a composition book, along with notes from PiBoIdMo and picture book month posts. I ended the month with a total of 64 ideas by the 30th. As you can tell, ideas tapered dramatically in the remaining 22 days of the month (there was even one day when I left my "ideas" page blank), though I still managed to end up with more than 30 for the month.

Some of them sucked. I knew it when I wrote them down, but still I wrote them. They were the best ideas I had on those days, and any idea was something worth catching.

Some of them were so-so. I usually knew that, too, when I wrote them down. But still, I wrote them.

Some of them were brilliant works of incredible genius. This is a tricky one, because there were maybe two ideas that struck me as brilliant that were actually workable, and another few that I thought were brilliant at the time that proved untenable.

Here's the thing: Some of the suckiest ideas had a wee kernel of something workable. And some of the ideas that I thought were only "so-so" turned out to be really workable. And some of the "brilliance" turned out to be fool's gold.

Which is to say that it pays to write all the stuff down, no matter how derivative it feels, or how dull or stupid or whatever. Because later, when it's time to sit down, sift, assess, and develop, you'll catch some corner of one of those thoughts that turns out to set you writing.

In 2009, I brainstormed a book title for a holiday book that I still haven't figured out how to write. Last year, I thought of a slightly different version involving a different holiday. Last June, I tried to write the book at least seven different times, and it didn't really go anywhere. Just last month, I was snuggled up waiting to fall asleep at night (happens all the time- my sweetheart drops off almost immediately and sleeps the sleep of the blessed, while it takes a while for me to shut down). I used the time to start mulling that idea again, when I seized on just one of the animals in the book, at which point the little man in the file room upstairs came running up with full stanzas of a rhyming book about the coyote.

He showed up, in fact, with three stanzas pretty much at once, which I eventually committed to writing after waffling on whether I should get up or not; but the risk of forgetting them overnight was too high to risk. Not long thereafter, he showed up with another two stanzas, leaving off at a point where I could see the ending, even though it required a few more stanzas to get there. They proved pretty easy to write, too, and the whole thing required minimal revision (for scansion and plot, as well as making sure it was factually correct). Now I've got myself a manuscript I'm thrilled with, and starting to send out into the editorial world.

If I hadn't written those other ideas down, I'd never have gotten here.

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 9th, 2014 06:39 pm (UTC)
You gotta write it all down. You never know when it will be useful to you!
Nov. 9th, 2014 07:09 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Tara!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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