Picture Book Marathon

I’ve been missing in action for the past two months. Even my family was looking for me. If they had just looked behind my laptop, they would have found me.
January is always a busy month in Oklahoma. I use the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation (OWFI) writing contest as a deadline to polish my poetry, a picture book, and a middle grade or young adult novel. I put together the first ten pages of my latest manuscript, along with a synopsis for longer works, for a critique offered by our Regional SCBWI chapter. And this year, when I had met those deadlines, I signed up for the picture book marathon. The goal of the marathon is to write and/or illustrate 26 picture book drafts in the 28 days of February.
Congratulate me. I just finished my 26th rough draft. And I do mean rough! I learned a valuable lesson, too. I need to start my tickler (idea) file for next year’s marathon tomorrow. If I have eleven months to brainstorm, next February will go much more smoothly.
And I will be back for the marathon next year. The exercise made me realize once again that writing short doesn’t mean writing easy. In poetry and in picture books, every word counts. Every scene must carry its full weight. On top of that, the author must make the work meaningful or beautiful or outrageous enough that readers want to read it again and again. It’s hard work. It’s my work.
I’ll be here next week with another book review. Hint: It’s Newbery and Caldecott time.  And for my long-suffering family, look for dinner to be hot and home-cooked again.

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