Thank You Bob Shea — #inspiredwriter
I’m going to take a moment to be serious about picture books.
The thing is, picture books are amazing. And it’s funny because I kind of forgot that along the way. In my experience, the love of reading that picture books initially fostered meant that I quickly left those books behind and moved into the world of Baby-Sitters Club, Sweet Valley High and V.C. Andrews (am I dating myself with those references?). Other than a break when I was practicing law (nothing ruins reading for pleasure like practicing law), I have loved reading from those initial moments spent learning to read.
I have also always loved to write. As a child, after reading Harriet the Spy, I carried around a notebook where I wrote down my observations and feelings (everyone did that after reading that book, right?). I stumbled across those notebooks recently and wow, what a trip down memory lane. In any case, I continued to write: stories in high school, creative writing in college, on and on. But it wasn’t until I had my son that I rediscovered picture books and decided I wanted to write them.
Now, I have to imagine that there are a lot of people who look at picture books and think: wow, these must be incredibly easy to write. Look how short they are! I can do that! And so they write some stories and send them out to agents and expect to be the next big picture book author.
Then there are the Type-A people like me, who research the industry, join the SCBWI, write, go to conferences, join critique groups, revise, and maybe finally work up the nerve to submit. And then never get anywhere. Maybe a form rejection comes your way, maybe not. But in any case, you’re rejected. Over and over and over.
This relates to Bob Shea, I swear…
Rejection can lead you to a dark place – one where you don’t feel inspired to write because – what’s the point? Agents don’t take you seriously, you’ll never make it out of the slush pile, you’re wasting your time, etc. But the worst part of trying to be traditionally published is that you can start to resent authors who have made it through. You go to the library or bookstore and browse and think to yourself, “my writing is certainly better than this,” or “how did an agent pick this?”. And then you feel even worse.
And that place, that moment, is when I think of Bob Shea, and send him a silent thank you.
Bob Shea is a genius. His picture books are absolute masterpieces. Those are not opinions, those are just facts. I look at Bob Shea’s books and I claw my way out of the dark place. Because first, who can be in a dark place when you read Bob Shea – it’s impossible, and second, because Bob Shea’s books inspire me. They’re hilarious, colorful, wonderful books that are impossible for me to resent. Bob Shea is traditionally published because his books are amazing. And maybe, if I work hard enough, I can create something amazing too.
I haven’t been inspired to write much lately. But I think Bob Shea may have kicked me out of my funk.
Visit his website here: http://bobshea.com
His twitter handle is: @bobshea
Who is your Bob Shea? And wouldn’t it be nice if all of those authors got a big thank you from the writers they inspire? #inspiredwriter