My Writing Process
I follow the advice of my friend, children’s author Kimberly Willis Holt, to write in different locations to keep the creative juices flowing. In pleasant weather, my favorite places are outside. Summer rain finds me in a quiet nook on a picnic table under the trees or on the patio with the music of raindrops on the tin roof. In winter, I sit in front of the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate.
For my first drafts, I use a college-ruled legal pad and a cupful of newly sharpened pencils and write on every other line to leave room to go back and revise. The pad and pencils remind me of my favorite part of starting back to school. I loved getting a brand new tablet and brand new pencils and thinking of what I would write with them in my new class.
Rewriting is my favorite part. I compare a writer’s first draft to a person finding a pretty rock and seeing an emerald amidst the dirt and trash. Rewriting gets rid of the debris, cuts the facets until light shines through, and adds the final sparkling polish. I switch to colored pens and highlighters for this step.
I would have had trouble becoming a writer during the days of typewriters. I am a poor typist, and computers allow for correcting mistakes. Sometimes they even point them out! I am glad that rewrites do not require complete typing of a manuscript over again. They even allow me to save more than one version if I can’t make up my mind.
Every month I join my writer friends from the Louisiana/Mississippi Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. We read our work and offer suggestions to each other. They listen to me read and help me refine my writing.
This is my husband and first reader Al. He is also my greatest supporter. His reaction when I get a rejection letter is, "They must not have read it."