When I was in first grade my teacher, Ms. Mills, gave each student in our class a blank book and asked us fill in the story. This assignment resulted in me writing about 5 books a week (I was a much more prolific writer back then!) Never mind that 90% of the words in my books were misspelled and that my stories usually did not have a clear beginning, middle and end (or any inherent conflict for that matter). Did I mention, I also did my own illustrations? Because of these books, I was entered in a contest and won the Young Author Award for my age group. The fact that someone outside of my immediate family told me that I was really good at something gave me a sense of pride and sparked my lifelong passion for reading and writing.
As I got older, I followed my passion to some extent. I earned a B.A. in English and then used my writing skills as an attorney and legal editor. But somewhere along the way, the spark had been lost. It wasnt until I had children of my own that the creative side of my brain started working again. As I read picture book after picture book to my kids, I grew to love the creative stories, efficient use of language, rhyming schemes, and humorous, imperfect characters. I can do this! I thought, somewhat naively. I quickly realized that writing a picture book is much harder than it looks. For the last two years I have been absorbing every bit of writing knowledge I can. I am constantly reading, writing, revising, critiquing, submitting and waiting . . . My I can do this! has turned to I HAVE TO DO THIS! because I love writing. I guess I have known that since the first grade.