It’s a not-so-secret goal of mine to write and illustrate a children’s book of poetry. I think it’s frowned upon (but like, why?) to share the fantasy land that encompasses a/your/my goal, but whatever. I like transparency.
I don’t just want to write a book, I want it published. Then I want it to be hugely successful. I want to go on book tours where people who don’t know me in real life want me to sign their books so bad that they wait in lines to meet me! (And since it’s we’re visiting fantasy land, I want them to tell me I’m so much prettier in person!) I want to read my poems to rooms full of children, and I want to hear them laugh and coo. I want my book(s) to become staples of classrooms around the country and the world. I want to earn more money than my husband (it’s a very competitive marriage) and be the one to pay off our house. I want to take really nice vacations, and be able to pay for not just my family, but for my extended family and friends. I want to carve a little name for myself into the slab of history. I want to meet Oprah and I want her to love me! So there you go. I dream big.
I had some very lofty goals when I was a kid. The whole Olympic-gold medal flavor of dreams. Nothing could of stopped me - and then one day, I stopped me. I stopped skating before I hit my “prime” and - it was the right decision. But I’ve long wondered, “what if” ... because foolish as it might have seemed, I REALLY believed in myself. Even still, I believe that if 16 year old Taylor hadn’t quit, she’d be JVN’s BFF right this second. I mean, probably.
And maybe I’m crazy, but I really believe in myself again.
And it’s a big but - Sir Mix A Lot would really like this but.
I get in my own way! I get in my own head! I freak out and get overwhelmed and then I wilt and feel sorry for myself and, and, and.
It just happened. I decided that it would be best to get myself organized - I mean, how else do you chase a dream? Step one, write a ton of poems. Step two, pick out all your favorites. Step three, send them to literary agents and then NY TIMES BEST SELLER here I come. I streamlined the process there, but basically that was my plan.
I’ve been writing like crazy, sharing a ton, and feeling motivated and pumped. I think by sometime next year I’ll have compiled a huge chunk of poetry and be ready to start sending off my goodies.
I got a little ahead of myself today, and started researching literary agents. Now look, if you’re wondering why I need a literary agent, well, I don’t know. That seems to be how the business is run, and who am I to challenge the process? The literary agent rubs the elbows and gets your foot in the door at the publishing houses. They seem like a pretty dang important piece of the pie.
Side bar, there is the option to self publish but a) that requires crowd sourcing and b) self promoting and c) it’s my last ditch option. I’m not sayin I won’t go this route, but I’m saying that it’s my preference not to. TBD.
Back to the literary agent. Apparently you have to send them a query letter - a cover letter of sorts. It briefly explains what you’ve written and needs to be exciting enough to keep the agent’s attention but also humble and straight forward. This query letter is going to give me an ulcer, but I’ll cross that bridge later.
The much worse news is that I basically have to write THE WHOLE book before I send it off. OMG. And it needs to be formatted as if it were a book. And y’all, I was not prepared for this. I just thought I would send them my top 5 most adorable poems and hook them with my version of a great demo. But no, I basically have to give them the full album and hope that it’s their jam.
This is about 5000 times more work than I had anticipated. In my foggy haze of how this would all work out, I imagined that the agents would love my excerpts, they’d have a bidding war until one of them captured my heart, and then they would give me a step-by-step mentoring session and hold my hand through this whole process. This formatting business is above my pay grade, and ya’ll. I don’t even make money.
I’m now faced with how I want my book to look, which was not something I had been entertaining. I was just writing and drawing and thinking that was enough until the big wigs could tell direct me further.
This news was crushing when I first processed it. “SO. MUCH. MORE. WORK.” And, work that I don’t even know how to do. What program does one use to format a book? How do I send that file? How do I embed that file - because apparently literary agents won’t open stranger-danger attachments. This is hardcore computer stuff and I am a hardcore not computer person.
A pity party ensued. I got in my head. My visions of Oprah felt far, far away. I felt sad.
And then I did this accidentally brilliant thing - and I wrote down why I “couldn’t” accomplish writing a book.
And when I read it back to myself, it made me laugh. A real life giggle. LOL and stuff.
Because it was basically, “I don’t know how to do this so I can’t do it”. And that is just silly and childish and the kind of stuff I get on to my kids about every single day. “Mom. I don’t know how to load the dishwasher.” “Really son? I bet you’d be amazed what would happen if you’d try!”
Get. Out. Of. Your. Own. Way.
Oprah is waiting.
It might be more work. And some of it might be harder, or more tedious than expected. BUT. When faced with the question of if the extra work is worth it... the answer is such an easy yes.
Also, in case you guys are concerned for the massive amounts of disappointment ahead of me ... we cool. I’m only kidding up there. I fully anticipate tons of rejection, and it’s fine. I’ve got JK Rowling (have you heard of her?) to remind me that rejection doesn’t mean shit. Plus, Jackson calls me “weird” 300 times a day, so I think I’m developing thick skin!
I recorded this blog entry - I don’t know how to technology/squarespace is hard, so if you’re interested, here’s the link. (I can’t figure out how to embed it here. I’ve tried everything.)