Sunday, December 07, 2008

Well, Isn't That Silly?

Last night, I came home from a long day of writing at Borders, laid down, and thought about how hungry I was. I was too tired to cook.

Then I suddenly had an image. And then a story.

image A children's story.

I went downstairs to cook some spaghetti, and ended up writing for two hours instead.

I'm stunned I wrote a children's story.

And embarrassed, LOL.

I don't know why. I've never written a children's story before. I haven't read a children's story in a year, at least. I've never considered writing a children's story, well not really, except this one that's been playing in the back of my head.

But this one, the one I wrote last night, came out of nowhere.

I had to write it, got most of it down, then was so embarrassed I went to bed and tried to put it out of my mind.

What's terribly frightening to me is I think I kinda like this story. Usually when I write a story, I end up hating it. I actually like this one.

image That frightens me, because what if it's just one big darling?

Usually, I'm pretty fierce when I write. No pity. But I feel protective of this darling, and that can't be good.

Probably this one is going to need someone else's eye, someone else's knife. Are there some stories that just cannot be self-edited, even if it's a skill you've developed and worked on for years?

After disagreeing with Stephen on how to deliver a critique since I've known him, I suddenly find myself looking around, wondering who would have the courage to tell me they hated it.

And sheesh, I know nothing of this market. This story I wrote has probably been written a million times.

I am comfortable hating my work by the time I'm finished. I actually like hating it. I think it's a necessary part of the process, to not have any darlings, to be ruthless and uncaring.

I am uneasy liking it. Now that is just downright scary. It must really suck, because the stories I hate the most, are the most popular. So by that formula, the stories I love must suck.

Do you have any stories in your drawer that are so special they embarrass you? Did the feeling die with time? Was it one big darling? Did you trot it out to be read by others? Or is it still unwritten, a secret little niggle in your heart?

44 bonus scribbles:

Sarah Laurenson 12/07/2008 10:38:00 AM  

Once I sent out a story I was in love with. Got back a very detailed rejection letter. Pissed me off, hurt like hell and I vowed never to send in another thing. I was very young. It's taken me a long number of years to reach the more professional stages of being a writer. And the desire to receive those detailed rejection letters.

Being involved with SCBWI, I have learned a lot about writing for children. I write mostly middle grade and young adult. And could probably answer questions about those categories. But it sounds like you wrote something for younger kids.

A friend of mine has a blog and she recently posted an entry on picture books (Jill Corcoran's blog). Maybe that will help.

But do feel free to drop me a line with any questions or even a little feedback request.

Edie 12/07/2008 11:42:00 AM  

I bet you'd be great writing a children's story! I love those ideas that come out of seemingly nowhere.

The beginning of my wip was different from any I usually write. I was worried that my CPs would think hate it. Instead they said it was the best I've written. So maybe this will be the best you've written, Spy. :)

Travis Erwin 12/07/2008 02:19:00 PM  

First off, good for you on not fighting the words.

Second, I'd suggest you sit on it for a month. Don't read it try not to think about it and work on other things. Then come back and read it. If you still love it as much you probably have a winner.

Lisa 12/07/2008 03:11:00 PM  

why are you embarrassed about writing a children's story?

In any case, I visited your blog because i saw on another blog that you liked the singing animated christmas decorations. I too love them and have them all over my house. I also have a signing xmas wreath whose eye light up when it detects motion and burst out saying 'merry christmas' then into a song. I have it outside so guest arriving are scared, or I mean, enjoy the sudden burst of signing. It's my highlight every year during my xmas party.

back to writing - proud of you for writing - regardless the genre or age group.

spyscribbler 12/07/2008 03:34:00 PM  

Sarah, aww, that's tough! Detailed rejection letters sound like a good thing to me. I have no clue about children's stories, the market, anything. And, with the morning light, I'm not convinced it's anything special, LOL.

It is for younger kids. I would love to beg for your feedback when I finish it! Thanks!

spyscribbler 12/07/2008 03:35:00 PM  

LOL, that's awesome, Edie! I've never considered writing a children's story at all. I had a middle grade in my mind, (like everyone else and their brother), but I'd never considered a young children's story.

spyscribbler 12/07/2008 03:36:00 PM  

Good advice, Travis! I think I'll finish it, first, then I'll sit on it. Whether I shop it or not, I'm going to give it to my niece someday. :-)

spyscribbler 12/07/2008 03:37:00 PM  

Lisa, it's not the genre or the age group, it's the fact that I sat down and wrote something with no thought to the market or what I should be writing or what I'm supposed to be writing. It feels like guilty, sinful pleasure. Especially when I'm in the middle of THREE other things that should all be finished now, LOL!

spyscribbler 12/07/2008 03:38:00 PM  

PS: Lisa, I LOVE those things! Ohmigosh, I'm crazy for them!

We're decorating our tree today. :-)

Erica Orloff 12/07/2008 04:13:00 PM  

I have one or two darlings--children's books too. I struggle with them. Their simplicity, what they mean. In kids' books, there are less words, so I fuss with each one. And I show them to no one, oddly enough. I just am not in the place where I intend to share them yet. Maybe ever.

Merry Monteleone 12/07/2008 04:39:00 PM  


I like Travis' advice, too. I'd be happy to beta for you, but I've never worked on younger children's books - mostly middle grade and YA, so I couldn't help you much with the market...

There's a site called compuserve though, and there are writers there in the kidcrit group that run the gamut from picture book through YA, some great editors and full time authors participate there as well. I can drop you the link if you'd like to look around there... Precie and Ello both particpate there as well, or they each did at one point.

LaDonna 12/07/2008 05:11:00 PM  

Spy, I love that you wrote a children's story. Obviously, your darling had to be told.

I have a little darling in a box somewhere. I was working full-time and wrote this novel after work, and on weekends. I was obsessed, and finished it very quickly.

I still think of it now and then, and who knows? Maybe one day I'll take her out and see how the story "feels" after all this time.

Rick 12/07/2008 05:23:00 PM  

Hello, Spy! Quick question- did you have your niece in mind when you wrote the piece? Were you thinking about her when the ideas started to flow?

Robin 12/07/2008 06:51:00 PM  

That's so sweet! I think writing a children's story is lovely! I say send it to someone who knows, to beta read. If you feel so strongly about it, maybe it's wonderful.

I was just in NYC, and last night I dreamed out an entire movie script for a weird, Roald Dahlish Disney movie. I'm wondering if I should write it down, but I think I'll just let it drift away. I'm already forgetting it, anyway.

Melanie Avila 12/07/2008 07:45:00 PM  

Spy, I think that's great! I almost said cute, but you seem to be having enough trouble coming to terms with this as it is, lol. ;) Clearly it was inside and needed to come out - don't be embarrassed!

Aimless Writer 12/07/2008 09:01:00 PM  

I have a story written from the dog's point of view. A chihuahua no less.
I love it but fear sending it anywhere.
My advice?
Embrace it! It could be your greatest work.

Lisa 12/07/2008 09:01:00 PM  

I think that's great that you went with your gut to write what you enjoyed. Doesn't that help you keep your sanity to some degree?

What do you think about the big blow up outdoor decorations. I stand in front of them like an awestruck child wishing for it. Since I'd have to put it up and take it down, I show restraint, but boy do I want one.
I love lights. Unfortunately my house isn't all trimmed so it's close to 3 1/2 stores since we're on slight hill and our half of the basement is visible in the fron.

I used to have 2 Christmas trees - oh that was way too much work!

Caryn Caldwell 12/07/2008 10:31:00 PM  

I think it's wonderful that you've written a story that you like so much. Here's hoping that your writing instinct is guiding you correctly. I'm sure it's a fabulous story. And at the very least you had fun with it, right?

mom2brie,  12/08/2008 12:07:00 AM  

Yes, call me!!! I'll try to call you tomorrow night after I put Brie to bed. I was going to call last night, but I was worried your teeth would make talking difficult :) I can't wait to read this story - I mean to listen to you read it to Brie :)

StarvingWriteNow 12/08/2008 09:13:00 AM  

Throw that story to the wolves! It's very likely much better than you're worrying about, and who knows? You could become the next Jan Brett or Eric Carle or something!

I'll read it as well if you want more opinions.

Kath Calarco 12/08/2008 09:40:00 AM  

I don't get why you're embarrassed. In my opinion, our stories are just as much a part of who we are as are our facial features. You put your heart into it and that's never something to be embarrassed about, especially when it's your wonderful heart.

Advice: Let the story simmer for five or so weeks and then re-read it before handing it off to someone else.

writtenwyrdd 12/08/2008 09:46:00 AM  

It is what it is. Just because you never intended to write a children's story doesn't mean you didn't write a good one, either, spy!

I hope that after you sit on it for a while you like it when you return to it.

Realmcovet 12/08/2008 11:12:00 AM  

As a HUGE fan of children's books, (even though I'm a freaking adult, I'll ALWAYS be a kid at heart) should totally go with the flow...I like Travis's advice. Sit on it a month, come back to it, and see if it doesn't reach out and pull at yer little heart strings. I wish you well on it, as I've always dreamed of writing children's books as well. I'll have to write under a pen name though, what with all the other skanky material I've got lingering about. :D

spyscribbler 12/08/2008 12:29:00 PM  

Aw, Erica. I'd LOVE to read your children's stories. I can relate. They are very close to the heart! And it's so true what you say: I'm excited to go in and tinker. It's not right yet, but every word just means so much, every picture and symbol. I'm going to have fun with it, I can tell!

spyscribbler 12/08/2008 12:31:00 PM  

Thanks, Merry! I'm going to google that. Compuserve? Wow! I had no idea that was still around. I found it, thank you! Isn't that something?

spyscribbler 12/08/2008 12:33:00 PM  

Rick, I wish I could say I did. There's a new book out, The Magician's something, by a Laura or Laurie something. I'd read the prologue where she talked about how special Narnia had been to her and how much she wanted to go there. (I bawled for hours when I realized I couldn't.)

And it just sort of reminded me of that special place in our heart, that sort of gets more armor as we get older. And then the story just hit me.

spyscribbler 12/08/2008 12:35:00 PM  

Oh, wow, LaDonna! Jill... ohmigosh, I forgot her name, and just suddenly realized she's not showing up in my blog reader anymore. How did that happen? I absolutely LOVE her blog.

Anyway, she calls those books that seemingly write themselves as "gifts." I'm not sure they're meant to be boxed up.


spyscribbler 12/08/2008 12:37:00 PM  

Robin, wow, NYC? I am so jealous. I have never been.

Your movie sounds fascinating! You know, I had no thoughts of selling this or anything. It was just a pure story that came to me, with no intent or anything. And it just wrote. It was wonderful.

spyscribbler 12/08/2008 12:38:00 PM  

Melanie, I'm not sure why I had that reaction. I think mostly I felt guilty because I wrote it for the sheer pleasure of it and no other reason. I don't know.

It was fun!

spyscribbler 12/08/2008 12:38:00 PM  

Oh, Aimless, you've mentioned that before! I always thought it sounded intriguing. :-)

spyscribbler 12/08/2008 12:42:00 PM  

Oh, Lisa, I love them! Have you been in Kmart this year? They've got a huge merry go round one and a ferris wheel one that are SO cool.

They're a bit out of our price range, though. We did just decorate our fresh-cut white pine with over 700 lights, LOL! It looks pretty. :-)

spyscribbler 12/08/2008 12:43:00 PM  

Caryn, it was so much fun I felt guilty and embarrassed! It was like when I first discovered writing!

spyscribbler 12/08/2008 12:44:00 PM  

Mom2Brie, totally! I'm still finishing it, but you can plan on it! I would love to read it to Brie! I can't really think of anyone else in the world I'd rather have enjoy the story, LOL.

spyscribbler 12/08/2008 12:45:00 PM  

Writenow, bring the wolves on! It still needs some tinkering, but I'm feeling less protective of it as a day has passed. :-)

spyscribbler 12/08/2008 12:47:00 PM  

Good advice, Kath! I didn't get why I was embarrassed, either. I think I just tend to feel guilty and embarrassed doing something for no practical purpose, especially when I have so much writing I need to catch up on! Or something about just playing with a story for the delight.

I really don't know, honestly.

spyscribbler 12/08/2008 12:48:00 PM  

Writtenwyrdd, I hope so, too! Even if I hate it, I will always love it, because it's the first story in a long time that I've written for no good reason buy my own pleasure. :-)

Robin Bielman 12/08/2008 01:38:00 PM  

You've totally made me smile, Spy! Because you wrote something from your heart, from your gut, with no other reason than to put those thoughts to form, and one day I bet the story will make lots of other people smile too! I don't think you should ever feel embarrassed about your creativity!

spyscribbler 12/08/2008 02:10:00 PM  

Thanks, Realmcovet! I know the feeling. I write under a pen name for the same reason, LOL! :-)

Children's books rock.

spyscribbler 12/08/2008 02:11:00 PM  

Robin, it was a surprising experience. I didn't even think, "I'm going to sit down and write, now." It just all happened. It was fun. Amazing. Special.


Lisa 12/08/2008 05:09:00 PM  

I haven't seen the latest blow up decoration at Kmart - just as well!

I'll play my meowing cats from Hallmark for you.
Did you see the Penquin one from Hallmark, so darling, the little butts jingle.

spyscribbler 12/08/2008 05:32:00 PM  

Awww! Lisa, our Hallmark store closed a couple years back. :-( At WalMart, there's the CUTEST, ohmigosh, CUTEST penguin (I think) getting down to a rap version of Jingle Bells or Jolly Old Saint Nicholas. It's hilarious! It really dances like a rapper!

I was laughing so hard I was in tears.

The one we've added to our collection this year is Santa in the bathtub, singing, "Splish Splash I was taking a bath."

I must find a Hallmark store!

Lisa 12/08/2008 05:39:00 PM  

And I must go to Walmart.
You're making me wish I had friends here who equally enjoyed the singing merriment of holiday decorations.

Oh it would be lovely, we could hit all the stores and dance along the isles!

The rap versions are the best. My dancing frogs aren't in christmas colors but I keep them with my holiday decorations.

My poor husband, he just shakes his head in dismay.

I just love Rick's avatar. I always 'pause' as I go through the list. That's actually his kitty, Minx. Luckly kitty, his face in an avatar.

Barbara Martin 12/09/2008 01:32:00 AM  

The words you are inspired to write often are the best ones. Don't worry that you wrote children's story. Put it away for awhile and then look at it again to see if it still "speaks" to you. If it does, then off you go to polish it and send it out.

Pink Ink 12/09/2008 11:11:00 AM  

I love the rush of a story spun out of nowhere and comes complete to me, where I can just write it out in one sitting.