"You get credit for what you finish, not what you start." ~ unknown
Whether it be a diet, a novel, a race, or a project at work, you never hear of anyone getting credit for starting it. Starting something usually happens with a burst of energy - like when the gun goes off to start the marathon. It's ten miles into it when the cramping starts and the breath is short, that thoughts of quitting start occurring.
Writing a book, especially one that's less than a thousand words, is a lot tougher than I thought it would be, even though I already had the story in my head. You would think putting down thirty two pages with about twenty words on each page would be easy. After all, I read thousands of picture books to my students over the years and had a pretty good idea of how they should look, feel, and sound. I quickly found out that writing a picture story book is a lot like remodeling an old house - another thing I spent thousands of hours doing over the years.
It's starts out by simply wanting to change and update the toilet. You remove the old one and find the floor is wet and rotted under the vinyl. You begin cutting away the vinyl and before you know it you're into a new tile floor. If you're going to change the floor you need to change the vanity and sink because they will sit on top of the floor. This tears up the wall and now you're going to have to paint the room. Well you can't be left with a new toilet and sink and a 1970 gold bathtub, so the $100 toilet just turned into a whole bath remodel.
Writing this book is much the same way. First I sat down and just wrote the story. Then I found out you can't have anything to do with the illustrations for a picture book. If you illustrate it yourself (which I was hell bent on doing because, of course, only I could picture the "right" illustrations) the editors will not even look at it. Then next thing is picture books are 32 pages long, in groups of eight pages. The writing has to maintain a certain rhythm throughout. Then you have to examine each page for "talking heads". The illustrator needs strong verbs to visualize the action. Then comes the story arc .....and I think you get the idea. I'm into a total remodel job.
The more I read about writing children's books, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more changes I have to make. The more changes I make, the messier my kitchen gets. The messier my kitchen gets, the more I embrace it and out of the back of my mind comes something the yoga instructors have said over and over: trust the process. I relax. I smile. Now I get it.
Writing a book, dieting, preparing for a marathon, doing a project at work - it's all a process that must be trusted to eventually bring you to your end. Through it all you grow and change and wonderful things get added to your life as a result of pushing through each struggle. I spent 18 months tweaking the same 26 poses everyday - just when I think I master one, a problem pops up in another. Where did I ever get the idea that writing a picture book would be any different? Not in the yoga studio.
And so, as another day goes by, I learn to relax and trust the process one more time, and....I have written.