I took another writing class this month, with picture book author Dashka Slater. And yes i attempted to write rhyme again. This time I really paid attention to meter, beats and all the rest. The finished story is called Mouse in the House, about a mischievous little boy who disobeys his parents and the consequences of that bad choice. The class is great because she shares everyone’s work and all of us help each other make the work better. You can check out the class at mediabistro.com. I won’t say the book is publishable, but it was a good exercise in understanding how rhyme works. My hat’s off to Dr. Seuss.
OK, I admit it. When it comes to writing I have jumped from dating, to project management, to cooking, and now middle grade fiction. But I have three perfectly good reasons for all the bouncing around:
1) When I have something to say, I write about it.
2) I have not sought representation so I haven’t wasted anyone’s time.
3) I can afford to self-publish the right way (editor, illustrator, cover art).
To be honest, I truly enjoy writing for writing’s sake. I’ve been a hobbyist since the 6th grade when I wrote poems in class. Here’s one of them:
Loveliness is watching the sun rise, looking at blue skies, having a dream
Loveliness is eating and drinking, laughing and singing, being with dad.
But most of all loveliness is watching stars in bed.
So it’s not the greatest, but I was 12, OK?
Anyway, when I grew up and faced the reality that authors didn’t make tons of dough, I decided to be a TV reporter so I could make at least a little dough. All the while I had book ideas in my head just itching to get out. So when the Internet came into my life, I fell hard. I knew then that I could write for hours on end and not get arthritic fingers. Soon afterward, the self-publishing train arrived and I jumped aboard.
Long story short, I decided it was time to get those book ideas down in bytes. Along the way I spent lots of money, learned the perils of publishing, and even created a blog talk radio show to help others do what I did. I also read lots of books on writing, and after four self-published books, I have now figured out my author self. Going forward I am going to use all my acquired knowledge in the kidlit space. With the help of my critique groups and courses, I will try to write a really good book, then eventually seek representation.
Which brings me to the question why be a multi-genre writer? Personally I see nothing wrong with it if you have something to offer in several areas. What I’ve learned from listening to some agents is that it confuses your fan base — they don’t know what to make of you. I get that, and I am sure that is true, but other agents say if you do choose more than one cookie from the jar make sure you use a different hand. That is, a pen name. Well, that begs the question: what do you do during interviews (if you get any) or at book club conferences? Who will you be ‘in-person’?
After my first MG book is published, I plan to stick with kidlit as my real self. Regarding my existing books — of which only scant few are aware — I don’t think my new focus will confuse anyone. Again, the advent of self-publishing allows you to do what you feel. In fact, while writing for kids, if I get the itch to write in another genre I can always self-publish those books and use a pen name. Just think of it: I could be traditional and indie at the same time. Hmm…sounds familiar.