Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Novel-Writer in Sheep's Clothing

I did it.  I came up with 30 ideas in 30 days, and boy, some of them are stinkers!  A few, if held up to the light, have a glittery sheen (and they have nothing to do with vampires), but many will never see the light of day.

It was harder this year, without a doubt, because I am at a crossroads with my writing.  I seriously do not know what kind of writer I am.  Actually, I think I do know what kind of writer I am, and it scares me.

I have been writing short stories and picture books for these last few years, not because they are easy (see many previous posts about how hard writing a picture book really is), but because they are, in a word, short.

A couple months ago I attended the KS-SCBWI conference and had a critique session with Diane Muldrow of Golden Books.  I had sent her a picture book manuscript.  It was a very unusual picture book story.  I was, in fact, not entirely sure anyone would consider it a picture book.  It was more along the lines of Bink and Gollie, a picture book/chapter book hybrid.  But I wanted an industry person's perspective.  Being a publisher of books for the very young, Ms. Muldrow very professionally and very politely questioned it's characterization as a picture book.  She even went one step further: "You're obviously a good writer [whew!].  Have you ever tried writing in different genres?"

Oh no...she spotted me, I thought.  She thinks I'm a novelist masquerading as a picture book author.  I should have brought my dog PB instead! 

Novels are so darn long!  How in the world do you finish one?  Do I have what it takes to birth pages in the hundreds, not dozens?  I stew over it to this day--afraid to take the plunge in the pool that is writing a novel.  How do you know?  Is it a gut thing?  Should I just do it?  Huh?  Huh?  I'm open to guidance...


  1. Kristen,

    Congrats on finishing your 30 ideas in 30 days! That is fabulous.

    For my masters I have to write a 10,000 word dissertation (which isn't half of some novels) and I wonder if I can do it, too! I understand the concern.

    I got some really good advice from a fellow academic not too long ago (I realize you are not doing academic writing but maybe it still applies in some sense). She said once you get an idea and do your research, write two really good pages a day. That is all you need. If you can do more, that is great, but stick to two pages a day and you will achieve your goal. Might be something to try.

    Also, have you heard of the national novel writing month? You probably have through your writing circles. I had a tutor do that one time and she found it to be helpful as well. Nothing like putting a deadline on a project.

    Well, I think you might surprise yourself with novel writing. Lots of luck and keep us updated.


  2. I understand your apprehension. I felt the same way - I can throw down a (rough-rough) draft of a PB in a matter of minutes and then I spend weeks revising and polishing, but a NOVEL? Holy cowpies!

    But then I did NaNoWriMo in 2010, and I wrote a whole novel in a week. It sucked, and there were major holes, but it was a draft that I could work with. You just have to throw out your internal editor for a while - or let her make notes in the margins - and get those words out. Once they're there, you have something to work with.

    I think you should go for it. :-)