FIRST PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 2008
Sometimes we just have to take control of our own dreams
Whenever I tell people Im a writer, they invariably say how theyd love to write a book. Indeed, we all have a story to tell and if you love reading, what better thrill to have a book in print?
I was very fortunate to have a non-fiction book published in Australia some time ago, but its only recently that Ive turned my attention to the childrens book genre. Ive been pottering on childrens stories since my kids were born and have a wee bit of an obsession with kids books, truth be told. I love the pictures. I love the stories that colour in our kids brains like an activity book and a box of crayons. I love fun childrens books, traditional ones, magical ones, educational and just plain nonsense ones. I even love the smell of them.
What a dream to actually publish a childrens picture book. What a dream to see the contents of my head down on paper; flickable. What a dream to entrance and inspire children in any way, shape or form. But how to make this dream a reality?
I have enough publisher rejection slips to ppier mach the Forbidden City. Theres been a lot of despair, frustration and tears shed in this writers lifetime, trust me. But I keep telling myself if Gone With The Wind was rejected 18 times before becoming one of the worlds best-known tales, surely I have a remote chance Likewise, knowing Harry Potters tale was knocked back 14 times before conquering the world, also gives me a shred of hope.
Forging ahead despite setbacks is easy for me because I love to write, and living in Beijing with kids certainly provides lots of creative fodder. But loving what you do doesnt mean it cant frustrate and disappoint you. After completing three childrens picture book manuscripts last year and sending them religiously to a long list of publishers in China, Australia and the States, its been very despairing to watch time slip away with nary an acceptance letter in sight.
Ive had several were considering this proposal, well get back to you in 8-12 weeks slips in the mail. These slips are the equivalent of a glassed-in bamboo stick to a hungry panda bear. Theyre a little tormenting. And they completely block out a large chunk of your life because most publishers like to be exclusively offered manuscripts. Margaret Mitchell must have been 183 before Gone with the Wind was published.
Nonetheless, each were considering slip has taken centre-stage on my fridge, where its edges slowly start to curl and where it is eventually removed and binned when the corresponding rejection letter arrives.
Im almost immune to the disappointment now. Almost. Im still affected but at least it doesnt completely swamp and disable me any more.
So, what to do when youre really sold on a story idea, you know its good and youre just not connecting to the right make it happen person?
What you do is you publish it yourself.
So thats what Im going to do.
Budding childrens book writers in Beijing, watch this space and Ill tell you how I do it. And Ill also tell you whether or not its actually do-able. Whatever the case, at least I wont have another rejection slip to deal with.First published on the City Weekend Beijing website.