Sunday, April 26, 2009

Finished! (For Awhile)

I’ve “finished” my chapter book (now called “The Totally Weird Substitute")—at least enough to send it out into the world. At this stage, I’m not truly finished. I’ll wait to hear back from a publisher or agent. When I do (probably four to six months from now), I hope it will be positive, of course. But even if it is, an agent or editor will probably ask for revisions. If an editor wants the publisher to buy the book, she takes it to the acquisition committee. The book is never actually accepted (sold) until it goes though the committee and a contract is offered. Even after signing a contract, the writer works with the editor to revise the book until it’s the very best work they can do.

But for now, I’ve revised and revised until I can’t see anything else to do to it. I’ve probably thrown out as many words (and whole chapters) as I’ve kept. My critique group has sliced and diced it. I’ve taken it to SCBWI schmoozes, where other writers have given me feedback. Truly, a book is seldom the work of only one person, and my fellow SCBWI members have improved it immeasurably by their reactions and suggestions.

This particular book started at the Oklahoma Arts Institute at Quartz Mountain during the Fall of 2007, where I tried writing a picture book. The picture book didn’t work, but I liked the teacher character I’d created. So I played around with the idea of a book about her and came up with a child character who could be in conflict with her. I started writing it as a chapter book in January 2008. Even for a short book, it’s a long process.

There’s a time to let go, and this is it. It’s time to move on to another project. On Friday it went into the mail, and a query letter and the first ten pages went to an agent.

Right now I’m feeling oh so creative and self-disciplined, but the next book will bring just as much hand wringing, woolgathering, procrastination, and self-doubt.

I love kids and I love books. To write books for kids is an incredible joy and privilege—even during the days when I spend more time staring at a computer screen than putting words together. On those days, I’ll have to remind myself of what writing for kids is all about:

I want to write books that make kids love to read!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for reading SHEEP!

tammisauer said...


Congratulations, Jeannie!

Gwendolyn said...

I've read many versions of your book and with each one it got better and better. It's a winner!