It’s time re-launch the Tuesday 12 x 12 series, where pre-published participants in the 12 x 12 picture book writing challenge get a chance to tell us more about themselves, their writing journeys, and their experiences with 12 x 12. This is my way of shining the light on the great folks putting in the hours and the hard work it takes to get published today.
Many of these writers, you will discover, have fabulous blogs of their own where they generously share their knowledge, successes, and bumps along the road. I’ve learned so much from reading their blogs, and I know you will too. After all, you don’t have to be traditionally published in order to have knowledge and experience worth sharing.
So let’s get this party started, with the FIRST Tuesday 12 x 12 of 2013!
AT LAST I get to host my FAVORITE 11 year-old boy in the whole wide world! Erik Weibel, of This Kid Reviews Books, has been following my blog for at least two years, and this year, he’s become a two-time participant of the 12 x 12 picture book writing challenge.
Erik writes fabulous book reviews on his blog, but he is also a terrific writer himself. I know because I’ve read some of his work. I was thrilled when Erik decided to join 12 x 12 again because he inspires me. When I think of how hard Erik works in school, how talented of a writer he is, how dedicated he is to passing on his love of reading to other kids, and how nice he is to his sister, it makes me want to be a better person and a better writer. I want to write books that kids like Erik love. So it is with great pleasure that I welcome Erik to my blog today. (P.S. – Normally I don’t comment within participants’ posts, but Erik had such a great list I couldn’t resist! :-))
Thank you Ms. Hedlund for asking me to post about what I did in 12×12 last year!
I am so happy to be a 12×12-er again this year! 12×12 in 2012 was awesome! In November 2011, I participated in Tara Lazar’s Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) (where you come up with 30 picture book ideas in the 30 days of November). That was a lot of fun (I did it in 2012 too) and I came up some really cool ideas… that I had no idea what to do with. I love to read, I never really thought about writing. I had heard about 12×12 because I subscribe to Ms. Hedlund’s blog. I was a bit scared to sign up for it because I didn’t think I could actually write a picture book. But, I thought it would be a good thing to try and I figured I would learn some things. I knew the goal of 12×12 was to write 12 picture books, but I set my personal goal at writing just one. I wanted one complete, pretty good, picture book. I am happy to say I passed my goal and I think I learned a huge amount! Here are my top ten thoughts about 12×12 from last year.
1. I wrote actual picture books and they were pretty good! In fact one of my drafts was an ABC book about Abraham Lincoln and I used it for a school project (it was also one of my PiBoIdMo ideas). I got an “A” and my teacher told my parents “Erik went above and beyond with this project!” I wrote a total of 3 picture book drafts. One is a rhyming PB that I am still working on (but I’ll get to that later). Three drafts for a kid who never really wrote anything is pretty good I think (and I got an “A” )!
Not true Erik – remember last year I read and gave you comments on your wonderfully funny chapter book!
2. I hope my teachers are not reading this, but I learned more grammar and word usage than I have in school (well maybe we just didn’t get to it yet in school). I learned more about making drafts and the editing process. Learned about the importance of rewriting and edits and more rewriting. Picture books have to say a lot in just a few words. I had a hard time keeping my word count down.
Personally, I think writing is by far the best way to learn grammar. You realize, when you write something that “sounds” funny, it’s probably due to improper grammar. I think learning by doing is easier (and more fun) than doing exercises and studying rules (although that’s important too!).
3. I learned that you should always appreciate what people are telling you and listen carefully to them. Try what they suggest. I met so many nice people in 12×12 last year. They were all very supportive of me (and each other). At first I was kind of afraid of asking “stupid” questions (like what is a “pitch” or what is “meter”) but when I did ask, people were very nice and helpful.
Erik, you have never asked a stupid question and I must say, you are one of the most generous members of our group in terms of offering support and encouragement!
4. Writing my drafts for 12×12 sparked new ideas! I love it when that happens, don’t you?
Yes! I absolutely do! 🙂
5. I learned about the publishing process. Editors, agents, publishers, publicists, buyers, sellers, who knew all this? OK, maybe you did, but I was really excited to learn about all that it takes to get a book from an idea on your desk to an actual book!
You’ll be SO far ahead when you get to the publishing stage!
6. Writing picture books is NOT easy (maybe this should have been my #1 point…)! I can’t BELIEVE how hard it is to tell a story in so few words… and then make them rhyme?!? I remember Debbie Ohi’s post during PiBoIdMo last year with the cartoon of the guy saying he wanted to get into writing and he was going to start with something easy like picture books. Yeah, right.
It is so true, Erik! The fact that you know that makes you a true writer indeed.
7. Revising your draft isn’t the end of the world, even though it may seem like it is. The more you revise the better the story gets. I learned that it is also good to let your draft sit a while and then go back to it. That was really good advice I learned in 12×12.
I am going to remember this advice the next time I am feeling like sitting down for the next revision is the end of the world. Because I feel that way too. A lot. Great point!
8. I learned that rhyming really, really well (with good rhyme and meter) is a thing that certain very talented people can do, and I I am not one of them. It is weird because I like to write poetry and can do that pretty well, but trying to get a story to rhyme, have good meter and make sense is something that is very difficult for me. Of course, I can (and will) always TRY it. But, I am thinking I am the worst rhymer of the … Hmm… OK. I’m just a bad rhymer and I have no concept of rhythm. Carry on.
Good for you for being willing to try and learn, AND for realizing that it takes tons of practice to rhyme well.
9. Critque buddies/groups are the BEST! Having a couple different people look at what you wrote is the best way to make it better. A lot of times they see things you missed or have really great suggestions on how to improve your story.
10. You won’t write a picture book if you don’t TRY! I am glad I tried. I am happy I am trying again (maybe someday I will get my story to rhyme well too). I have a lot of fun trying to write the drafts for 12×12. As a kid who reads a lot, I appreciate all the authors who are trying to write books for us kids. I hope that I get to read YOUR book when it comes out!
I have NO doubt you will achieve anything you set your mind to, Erik, including getting a book published one day!
Erik is an eleven-year-old fifth grader that loves to read. He started his blog, This Kid Reviews Books when he was nine. Erik writes a monthly book review column for his local free newspaper. He has a black belt in TaeKwon Do and in his spare time enjoys building things out of LEGOs. He hopes to be an inventor and a published author when he grows up. You can find Erik at his website www.thiskidreviewsbooks.com. Follow him on Twitter or like him on Facebook.Categories: 12 x 12, Authors, Children's Books, Guest Blogging, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Poetry, Rhyming, Works in Progress, Writing