As many of you know, I live on a mountain. It's pretty secluded, especially in winter. We have to maintain about two miles of road. It's not your average straight, flat road either. There's a couple super steep parts, a little dam, and lots of twists and turns. But really, that's not so bad. It's the wind--it makes it really hard to keep the road open so we usually end up snowmobiling, or skiing, or just plain walking, which can be really fun and sometimes not so fun when it's freezing cold and the snow is tearing into your face like little shards of glass and you have kids and groceries to bring safely home from your car you've parked miles away. It also makes you write run on sentences. So, this year my husband and I decided that it would make life easier (and maybe my writing would improve) if we moved for the winter to somewhere that the roads are plowed by someone other than ourselves. Brilliant, aren't we?
I've been packing for the past couple of days. I'm not very good at it. I wander from room to room and look at stuff. I stand around and think things like, do I need to bring this jar of loose change? It is money. Everyone needs money. Every once in a while I put something in a box, and after a ridiculous amount of rounds I am happy and even relieved to find that a box is finally packed and ready to be added to the huge stack of boxes my family has packed. (Amazingly quickly, by the way.)
I realized that this is how I write picture books too. I wander from story to story. Stare at them a lot. Read them over and over. Add some words. Wonder if I need them. Let them sit on the page for a while. Come back and look at them again. Take some words back out. Put in more new ones. I do this over and over until eventually I'm happy and even relieved to find that I have an actual story. Sure, there may still be stuff I don't need or stuff I should add. But it has really shaped up and is ready to move somewhere new--like my critique partners inbox.
Now, for my family's sake we should all hope that I am faster with the packing than the writing. Unfortunately I'm starting to wonder. I'm hoping I'll at least have some stories figured out by the time winter is over. If I don't they'll wait patiently for me to come back to them. So will my jar of change.