You know you're a children's writer when ...

I had a dream that I was at the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) LA conference and Josh Groban was singing O Canada. Did I mention that the conference was in a giant hockey arena!? Then I dreamt that a fly bit me on the forehead and I woke up. 

While I was musing about how, next time, I won't eat sushi before napping, I started thinking about this community of writers who writes for babies, toddlers, first readers, tweens and young adults. Collectively know as children's writers.  

You know you're a children's writer if:

You've read a picture book to a child and thought 'I can do that' (then spent the next twenty years learning how!); 

Like Stephen King you have: "the heart of a small boy... and I keep it in a jar on my desk." 

You can recite the books you read as a child and how they shaped your life and world view (for me it's The Little Engine that Could, Curious George, Madeline, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and who can forget how Nancy Drew has influenced the twin detective characters in my Megabyte Mystery series);

You want to tell a really good story with characters that ring true without being didactic;

When you get an idea about scientists creating giant frogs, you don't think you're hallucinating; 

You read voraciously in the genre that you are writing and the age group you are writing for (that's a good thing for all writers); 

You keep up with current trends and become part of a local and world-wide community of writers who love to write for young people; and,

You really like to think you've touched the reader, and love to get emails telling you that your book rocked and you are their new favourite writer. 
Students doing a writing exercise at one of my school visits. 
What were the signs that you noticed on your way to becoming a children's writer?    


Candy Gourlay said…
Me! Me! Me! That's all me! I think I write for children because I remember how I loved books as a child and want to share that feeling. It surprises me when I meet children's writers who don't actually like children!
Angela Ackerman said…
So true. I especially like the picture book one...haha, how many of us started a PB thinking, 'Oh this will be EASY!'

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse
Jan Markley said…
It surprises me too Candy - I work under the premise that kids are smart and creative and want imaginative stories.

Angela, so true, my first attempt was a picture book and I think it's still languishing in a drawer somewhere!
Anne R. Allen said…
This is so true! "You've read a picture book to a child and thought 'I can do that' (then spent the next twenty years learning how!)" I tried--then realized that's not where my talent lies. I'm so much in awe of writers who can do it. It's like composing a poem.

Love the idea of Josh Groban singing O Canada in LA. Most Americans wouldn't recognize O Canada (unless they remember it from the Olympics.) We can be so embarrassingly provincial.
Jan Markley said…
Yes, it was a weird dream, there were other big names there and the conference was in a hockey stadium - wouldn't it be nice to get that kind of attention for writers.

I agree that a picture book is like a poem and a poem and a picture book are probably the hardest things to write because you need an economy of words!
Kristen Wixted said…
Just found this post through Deb's tweet...definitely can relate.
Jan Markley said…
Thanks Kristen! Glad you found me, Deb's got a great blog and is a great supporter of children's literature!