Happy New Year! With some author visits and readings already lined up for 2014, I’ve been thinking about those I did in 2013. They were enlightening, challenging and loads of fun! It’s the questions that get me to thinking about why I write, particularly at this elementary school level. Here are some of the most common questions children ask.
#1 “Why do you write gardening books for kids?” Ooh, I could write an entire book to this question. Gardening is a passion since I became a Master Gardener in 2000. There are too many thousands of gardening books out there, so I settled on children’s gardening books–of which there are very few good ones. And perhaps a sentimental answer–K-3 kids really draw me in. They are curious, fun, uninhibited for the most part, not cynical, and just let the questions fly. And as a former bug- and snake-collecting, flower-planting, fort-building kid, maybe I just hark back to that age as one of the favorite times in my life.
#2 “How old were you when you started writing?” Umm, old. Well, not really because it seems I’ve been writing in one form or another all my life: stories as a kid, research papers, technical writing and editing, newspaper reporting, PR campaigns,
#3 “How do you get your ideas?” Good question! They come mostly from my own life experiences, and from things I’ve read, heard, or witnessed of other people, places and events. Little tiny things that stick in my mind. Quirky things. Kids taking a short cut across my lawn (Mrs. Feeny). Finding a dead butterfly in my own garden (The Dead Butterflies Diary). The annual excess of zucchini in everyone’s garden (Zack’s Zany Zucchiniland). A story about a neighbor trying to whack hummingbirds with a tennis racquet (Howie’s Hungabird Dilemma). I encourage the kids to write all their ideas and funny or sad experiences in a journal, that it’ll come in handy some day. AND, because I always loved to color and draw–I was motivated to write and illustrate Color My Garden (a habitat coloring books about birds, bees, butterflies and bugs). It’s out in Spanish now, too, inspired by the four semesters of Spanish I took years ago at a junior college.
#4 “Are you going to write more books?” Oh yes. I’ve got ’em queued up for the next two or three years. Plus, new ideas pop into my head and they push the older, already written stories further down on the queue. I plan to write until I can’t. I never find writing boring, and I actually enjoy rewriting!
#5. “How many drafts do you do?” Ha! Kids generally think one is plenty. They are shocked when I tell them five or eight or ten. After a while, the drafts become simply tweaking and fine-tuning, finding just the perfect word or phrase. [Teachers shake their heads knowingly and thank me for this bit of info!]
#6 “Does everyone like your books?” Wow! I hope they do. No one has ever directly told me they don’t. My kid gardening books all have a good story, cute illustrations plus lots of good gardening information. What’s not to like? The kids agree! My books are always available on my website and on Amazon.com. www.sandybakerwriter.com.