I thought I knew how to
write a children’s picture book. I didn’t. I attended the Florida Christian
Writer’s Conference several years ago with my manuscriptThe Donkey and
the King.I anticipated an
editor might gasp with delight at the wonderful story and beg me to sign a
contract right on the spot. I imagined floating out of the conference in
storybook land and racing home in my red firebird, patting myself on the
shoulder for my creativity and talent. Yawn. We’ve all had visions of grandeur.
When do we realize, if
ever, we aren’t as good as we think we are? The best of us need critiquing,
teaching, input from others, and wise advice from those who have gone before.
Rare is the writer who comes along and is so gifted he sweeps anyone off his
feet. More than likely, the author will land on his buttocks when an editor
points out all the flaws in his “Nobel prize-winning piece.” Or worse, his book
or article may not even be fit to be fetched to the dogs (I know, too much
hyperbole, but you get my point).
The truth is writing is hard.
Rules need to be followed until you learn them. You can decide which ones you
want to break once you have mastered the techniques. I was a graduate of the
Institute of Children’s Literature at the time, but I was very much a newbie.
For starters, I needed a critique group. There wasn’t one in my city, so I
formed one. Word Weavers is the best writer’s group that’s entered the writing
arena in the last few years. To find a Word Weavers group in your area, go to:http://www.word-weavers.com/
Fortunately, a kind
author at the conference went over my book and gave me valuable input. I took
her advice to heart. I went home and wrote and rewrote. What were some of my
mistakes? I used big words—three-year-olds don’t know big words. The
story was too long. Little kids have short attention spans. I had some concepts
out of order—I needed a fresh set of eyes, someone who didn’t know my story, to
point these out to me.
I learned a lot at that conference, including how important it is
to attend them and soak in as much information as possible. While writing is a
solo journey, publishing and marketing takes teamwork and contacts—even if you
Since I publishedThe Donkey and
the King, I’ve received my Master of Arts in Creative Writing. I’ve learned
more about writing than I ever thought possible. I cringe now when I receive
emails about “how to create content” or “how to outsource content” or “how to
write a book in a weekend.” Writing is an art. If you don’t have the fire
in your gut to write good content, don’t expect a reader to have the fire in
his gut to read your outsourced book. Whatever happened to passion and
creativity and sacrifice and hard work? What about the desire to learn how to
I hear from time to time
writers say, “I don’t like to write, I just like the finished book.” If you
don’t like to write, why are you writing? If you aren’t willing to invest in
the process to make your writing better, like attending writers’ conferences, joining
a critique group, taking writing classes, and reading books on writing, how can
you become the writer God gifted you to be? If you don’t have the passion to
write, you won’t push yourself to reach a higher level in your writing. Will
God bless your half-hearted efforts?
Don’t let the “roaches”
out there eat holes in your bank account either. Flee from those sharks who
promise wannabes they can produce content without a sweat and make a million.
Where is the roach spray when you need it? I zap those emails in a heartbeat
and hope people aren’t gullible enough to pay them.
Writing is an art—not
just the artwork that is drawn or written on the pages of a book, but the art
that is etched in the reader’s heart. Have you, the reader, been changed by the
author’s message? Encouraged in your walk with God? Convicted of sin in your
life? Art should add meaning and culture—and good art should represent some
aspect of our Creator. Our words should convey that deep down; otherwise, for
who or what are we writing? To glorify ourselves? God forbid.
The Donkey and the Kinggrew out of my visit to Israel in 1991. The story is an allegory
to the book of Philemon in the New Testament. The slave, Onesimus, ran away
from his master. Along the way he met Saul who witnessed to him and urged him
to return home. On every page inThe Donkey and the Kingis the hidden word “good.” The lesson
Donkey and the Kingspeaks to
all of us: There is good in the world if we look for it and listen for
One of my fondest
memories in my writing journey is when I readThe Donkey and the Kingto a young Sunday school class. The
kids stayed afterwards to find the “good” hidden on every page. Now available
in Kindle, the drawings can be enlarged to search for the hidden word, and the
font can be made bigger for easier reading.
Creativity and the
passion to share is what all authors should embrace—and strive to perfect. I
want to believe I give my all for the reader’s enjoyment. And then, just maybe,
I might get an Amazon review praising my well-written book. God rewards those
who are diligent and faithful in His service—and I remind myself of that when
my feelings don’t match reality or someone criticizes my book unfairly. It
happens too often. Spiritual warfare is part of the Christian’s world and
writers are not immune. In the end, we know who wins.
My advice: Learn
all you can and enjoy the writing journey. Share your story, conquer evil with
good, be passionate always, and leave your mark on the lives of others. Through
your words, you can influence future generations for good, and that’s worth
To learn more about the availabilty of "The Donkey and the King," please visit
my website by clicking HERE.