Sunday, August 31, 2008

How "The Purple Elephant" was born

When Munchkin was a baby and taking multiple naps/day, I had many hours during which I had to do something really, really quiet in order not to wake him up. I read a lot of books, and sometime in the fall I picked up a copy of "No Plot, No Problem" by Chris Baty. I’ve always wanted to write a children’s book, but I get hung up on that one little detail commonly known as "the plot!" The idea of being able to write without a predetermined plot was revolutionary!

Chris Baty may be better known as the founder of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which occurs in November. His method of writing, which isn’t actually new, is that you just write, write, write and worry about the details later. NaNoWriMo attracts tens of thousands of participants every year who pledge to write 50,000 words during the month of November. There are online and regional support groups, weekly email encouragements and a special logo for those who actually make it. "No Plot, No Problem" explains the method in detail.

That November I decided to go for it, although I never thought I’d actually complete 50,000 words. Partway through the month I linked up with a local support group, without whom, I think, I never would have made it. Once I joined the group, I just couldn’t quit!

By the end of November, I had my first draft of "The Purple Elephant." I spent the next year editing it and then attempted to find a publisher. My real motivation in wanting to get the book professionally published was that it needs illustrations and I knew a publisher would provide them. After too many attempts and several very nice rejection letters, I gave up and instead explored self-publishing. I have finally found a way to self-publish that won’t cost a fortune, but I am still looking for an illustrator (who won’t charge me a fortune). My goal is to do one more complete edit, add illustrations, and self-publish the book by Christmas 2009. I don’t know if anybody will buy it, but it doesn’t matter since it’s really for Munchkin, who will be almost old enough for it by then. (OK, I hope somebody buys it!)

In the meantime... it’s always fun to share what you’ve written. "The Purple Elephant" is similar to those old magazine serials in that it’s meant to be read one chapter at a time. I’m going to post Part I of my book as a chapter each week until Christmas. Check my blog for "Sunday Story." Please forgive the formatting as it won’t be perfect and my text needs another complete edit, which I'm sure I won't keep up with! I welcome any comments anyone might have. If you give me a really great idea, it might even work its way into the next edition! Finally, to anyone who thinks they can steal my book, I'd say, "Go write your own!" I know I’m taking a chance, but hey, my faithful readers can all vouch that they read it here first!

Tune in next Sunday for the first chapter of "The Purple Elephant!"


Joyce said...

Donna, I know a couple of illustrators. Why don't you e-mail me if you are interested?

Donna said...

Thanks, Joyce!

And if anyone else also has a recommendation for me of an illustrator, I'd love to know it! I don't necessarily need a pro -- just someone who likes to draw cute pictures for kids!