I came across more illustrations in one of my art pads; images I planned as part of a children’s picture book called Toby and the Tuatara. (see above). As in Flora’s story (2 posts back), I forwarded this work to a publisher. Again, there was praise for my illustrations, and a polite reason as to why the story did not fit their ‘lists’. I was subdued, maybe a little sad, that my stories were not considered good enough for publication. But did I let it bug me?
No. Well, a bit. But I am a stoic type and decided to make every effort I could to improve my writing skills in this area. Possibly I, like many beginning writers, believe their first stories are good, simply because they love them and wish to have faith in their work. I joined a group of writers for children called KiwiWrite4Kids, run by a children’s author Maria Gill, went to meetings, listened to published authors speak, and kept honing my skills.
I was asked to run a critique group for members in my area soon after. We met monthly. I discovered that I had a skill for responding to what others had written, and although I plodded on trying to write for children, I came to realise that wasn’t where my talent lay. Believe me, writing for children is hard. You really need to know your audience well; the age group you are aiming your story at. That means using strong verbs, good adjectives and the appropriate number of words for different age groups. The language needs to be succinct, yet engaging. The story needs to work on its own, whereas the illustrations should work for the story. Whether I’ll give children’s stories another go, the future shall dictate. I continue to write fiction and non-fiction for adults and sketch. As long as I’m learning I’m happy.
The three drawings above, were from Toby and the Tuatara. All were drawn with Faber Castell polychromas artist quality pencils on full-sized A2 art paper.