Disclaimer: I feel certain that one day I’ll look back at this post with a patronizing smile, or maybe a cringe, and think of what a sentential idealist I was. I fully expect to laugh at all the fluff. But, if this site is about recording the journey, and this is where I am today. Plus, if that does happen and I find myself looking back, then I’ve gone somewhere; mission accomplished.
I am a small fish. Within my current school, I find myself among thousands of others, trying to get their Picture Book published. Slowly I am making my way to the middle of the group, with the majority ahead of me and a handful of others just starting out. I know that if I’m ever going to have a chance of making it in this industry, I need to do a few things. I need the quality of my writing to improve. I need to continue to educate myself on the industry. I need to form a network of other fish so we can help each other out when the current gets rough. I also need to know who it is I aspire to be. I have a clear understanding of why I write today, and who I am at this moment, but I need to discover who I want to be, as a writer, five, ten or twenty years from now. This week, in the midst of a good book and a great writing challenge, I started to figure it out.
Erica Bauermeister, the author of The School of Essential Ingredients and Joy for Beginners, is my favorite. Her books have affected me greatly, in fact, they’re more than friends; they’re family. Erica has an incredible gift of incorporating all five senses, so as the reader, you have the chance to BE in the story, not just watch it unfold. She takes something as menial as buying a tomato at a produce stand and transforms her words into an experience. Before I know it, I can feel the weight of the tomato in my hand, see the shiny red skin, smell the surrounding produce and hear the lively market in the background. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always tried to utilize all of my senses in every aspect of life. When studying in nursing school, I would re-write all my notes, read them aloud, listen to the same classical music CD and drink ice water. When reading to my children, I always have them sit in my lap, we touch the pages as we go through them and have even smelled a book or two. If I’m cooking supper for my family, I like to chop my own onions, grate my own cheese, and smell every ingredient before adding it to the pot. It’s no wonder Erica’s books speak to me; they do the same.
As a writer, this is what I want to bring to children. I want to write stories that not only encourage creativity but also stimulate their senses. I want to make it easy for them to taste the refreshing bite of watermelon, or hear the screech of a table saw in the background. I want to write books that are more than stories for children to hear, I want to write stories they can experience.
Last Tuesday evening, I had an ‘Aha moment’ as I was unpacking this revelation. From that point on, I allowed the five senses (plus one) to guide me through my NaPiBoWriWee challenge. I used six of the seven days to write a story that focused on one of the senses, with the sixth being emotions. If I’m going to find success, I have to master the use of descriptive words, at a very basic and elementary level. I know that I have a long way to go, and for some of you this might seem like an intangible and therefore unrealistic goal. I can appreciate that, and I know that I have more to unpack about my future hopes and dreams. But the good part about goals is that they only need to hold significance for the one who set them, and I’m excited to get back to my WIP with a renewed sense of purpose and motivation.
I’d like to take a moment to introduce you to my NaPiBoWriWee friends:
- Violet’s Heartbreak- Emotion
- Messy Grace’s Messy Place- Sight
- My Momma has a Monster- Sound
- Wendy’s Watermelon- Taste
- Bruce is Loose! – Smell
- Nurses- Touch
- School of Superheroes- All 6! Score!
Thanks for reading, come back anytime!