This blog is sponsored by Gay Howard, Children's Author. Gay Howard is a mother of five who has held some 27 jobs and traveled to England, continental Europe, Alaska, and 46 of the *lower 48* states. Her experiences both at home and abroad have provided great grist for her writing. Gays's work has appeared in Senior Source Magazine and her quilting songs have been published as a collection under the title Emma Sings. She has released a children's CD, Sniffer and Santa. Gay also writes poetry and political satires, and has a play in progress.
Dr. Seuss on the inspiration for Horton Hatches the Egg: "I was in my New York studio one day, sketching on transparent tracing paper, and I had the window open. The wind simply took a picture of an elephant that I'd drawn and put it on top of another sheet of paper that had a tree on it. All I had to do was to figure out what the elephant was doing in that tree."
I love that quote and I love writing for children, but I gotta say Dr. Seuss was lucky that elephant sketch landed in that tree.
As Dr. Seuss also said, on how long he expected The Cat in the Hat to take to write: "I figured I could knock it off in a week or so." On how long it really took: "A year and a half."
Writing for kids can be kinda easy sometimes and it can be a tedious thing sometimes. I say, you have to care deeply about children and wish to share stories about characters you and the children reading your books can care about. Let your mind run free like a child's, is a good piece of advice. Do things children do, go to a park, listen to kids and how they talk, run and roll down a hill, eat an ice cream cone, watch the clouds, watch ants work, swing, daydream, repeat old jump rope songs you did while Jump Roping, play pretend games, remember the sounds you made when "driving" your cars and trucks, listen to the music in the wind, smell wildflowers and always keep a small pad to write your thoughts and feelings and observations down. Be sure to research if you're writing about a child with some kind of condition like blindness, if you've never been blind or in a wheelchair or are mentally retarded or have a dad on deployment or a mom who came back from war with serious injuries, your family is getting divorced, you think you might not be a girl afterall, etc. The list goes on as far as life experiences and dreams can take you.
If you can't find the child in you, how can you write stories that will touch the hearts of children? Have you checked out Shel Silverstein's website? What are the best ways for you to touch the inner child in you?