|love poem to Man O'War|
Somewhere about the time I was 10 or 11, I started writing stories. Most of them were short. Even those that were intended to be long, were short -- because I got bogged down in the middle, or seduced by an exciting new idea! I only shared some of my work, and then only with a select few.
It wasn't until I was in my late twenties that I started thinking about publishing any of my work. I started with, of course, poetry. More love poems! For adults! I got published. And then, just like Younger Me, I moved to stories -- middle grade novels. I got published. I was a novelist! Picture books were not on my radar at all.
Until 2010 when I went to Children's Poetry retreat with Rebecca Kai Dotlich. I felt like I'd found my always-meant-to-be home! I immediately started writing poetry picture books. I got published. And then two things happened:
1. I wrote and submitted quite a few middle grade novels -- and no one wanted them. It was a low time.
2. One of my editors told me she wouldn't be able to acquire any more of my poetry collections, because the sales numbers of poetry in general were too low to get it through.
Sad times, I tell you! Sad times! So, what's a poet & novelist to do?
Try something new.
Oh, but it's so hard to let go, to listen to what the universe is telling you! So much easier (and satisfying, at least for the moment), to dig our heels in and refuse to budge. And taking a new path is scary. Who knows what dangers wait around the bend?
and yet... who knows what beauty?
LOVE, AGNES: POSTCARDS FROM AN OCTOPUS. It comes out Oct. 1, and is the first of several narrative picture books I'm so grateful have found publishing homes.
And: I haven't given up on poetry picture books -- I've just had to be more innovative. (I have several poetry collections in the publishing queue, too.)
As for middle grade novels? I still love them, and I do hope to publish one again someday.
|"The Road" by Edgar Degas|
(click here to read the poem
I wrote inspired by this piece)
Who knew? I never not once would have could have predicted it.
O, the crooked path, how I love thee!