The boy who caught a star

“Once there was a boy and the boy loved stars very much. Every night the boy watched the stars from his window and wished he had one of his very own.”

Thus begins, How to Catch a Star, by Oliver Jeffers, an early picture book. We’ve had this book for a few years, yet my kids still pull it out.

It ends with a rustic illustration of a boy walking along the shore holding hands with a star fish. “The boy had caught a star. A star of his very own.”

Every time I read this book, I am inspired to create. It sends me into writer’s heaven. Reading to my children a few days back, I finally discovered why children’s books have such a profound effect on me (although I do not yet write children’s books). It is that stories are the gateway to the imagination. The rapture on their faces while reading reminds me of how far the mind can go. Of all the possibilities a story can hold.

If the story draws on them, they will role play and produce art inspired from it for days afterwards. I realize this is something I touch on often on this blog – keeping ourselves open and responsive as writers. Not blocking ourselves to the known, but rather seeing the potentials. And for me, watching children’s films and reading children’s books is one of the best ways to do so. Not only do I experience it through my children, but I return to my inner child.

Last week also marked the week that my 6 year old began reading chapter books in french. As I was driving, (so much seems to happen in the car) I was listening to CBC (again), and there was an interview with a prof of languages from U of Calgary. He had a collection of translated Harry Potter books on display. He was interested in how Harry Potter has affected children’s literacy throughout the world. In Thailand, he said, they documented it. Prior Harry Potter, child’s literacy was 6&. Post was 22%. Here’s a newspaper article on him and his colecttion if you’re interested.  

Imagine that! How much JK Rowling feel with such numbers.  To inspire so many children to want to read. I told my son that soon he too would be reading Harry Potter. He looked at me with big eyes, uncertain how to respond.

My current wip began in a workshop held by Ilona Martonfi. I had been playing with the idea in my head for a few months, and when we were told to unleash our inner child for one particular excercise, my novel began its formation on paper. My writing deals with adult issues, yet when writing I am writing from the child in me. Where nothing is set, and I can go anywhere.

The Dreaded Query

After deciding that I had procrastinated enough, and that I had re-written my query letter about twenty too many times, I sent it out to four agents via e-mail. I regretted it each and every time I pressed the send button on my e-mail. The amazing part of this story is that within twenty-four hours I had a response from three of the four agents asking for a full ms. For days I could hardly speak. I became so nervous I wished no agent had ever asked for my manuscript to begin with.
A few weeks later, and I am now a writer with a broken heart. Two of the agents have said “Thank you, but no thank you.”

woman-broken-heart_~POP050

Yes – I know – we are not supposed to take rejection personally.

I tell myself I am now officially a writer – after all, I’ve been told that you can’t be a writer without experiencing rejection, and lots of it!

We all know the stories of the bestselling award winning authors who faced rejection:

carrie stephen king
harry potter
john grisham
the princess dairies
dune

Last winter I won a literary award for a short, and after the initial thrill, I was dismayed – I would be expected to perform from now on like an award winning writer. It felt much the same way when I was asked for a full ms – uh oh – I wrote a great query – but can my novel live up? I have decided the answer is yes. I am just going to have buckle down, roll up my sleeves (yes – I just used two cliches!) and get hard at work.

In the meantime, I’ll try to enjoy my status as a rejected fiction writer. (And, I’ll be holding out for that third agent…)

rejection

rejection letter b

rejection letter c

rejection letter d

rejection letter e