Friday, May 13, 2011

Harder than you think

promoDid you catch kidlit agent (and editor of more award winning books than you can shake a stick at) Brenda Bowen on Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me a couple weekends ago? I’ve been listening to that show since I was in high school, and rarely have the panelists irritated me more than they did in this show, when they found out what Ms. Bowen did for a living. It was painful. I was impressed at her civility.

I’ve been meaning to blog about it, but now I see Adam Rex has already done it, and he’s much funnier than I am, so go there. I particularly like his challenge:

“May I suggest you try something?–write a brand new, memorable quote. Something we'll still be repeating a hundred years from now, like people are always doing with Twain. It should be easy, shouldn't it? It only needs to be, like, ten words.

“Or is it hard to think of something worth saying? And hard to think of the perfect way to say it because, with so few words, each one has to really count? My stars but that's interesting.”

For my part, I’ve spent the better part of a half hour trying to come up with a brief, memorable illustration of how much more work at every stage picture books are than almost anything else, and I can’t do it. Gee, I guess it’s hard to be brief and memorable.

It’s not succinct, but I can say that I had the pleasure of having Nancy Carlson in my office last week. She’s illustrating a book by Jane Lindaman for Carolrhoda’s spring 2012 list, and we were going over her third dummy for the manuscript (or maybe it’s the fourth). The first dummy would have made most people happy; this dummy was hilarious. But Nancy still found things that weren’t quite right and that she still wanted to work on. Nancy Carlson has been doing picture books since I was the on the young side of the target audience for picture books, and it’s still not easy.

So, I’ll still listen to Wait, Wait, but I can’t wait to reject Paula Poundstone’s picture book.

Paper photo by photosteve101.