August 1, 2017

Invaluable Advice

Children's Writer's World warmly welcomes a guest post by writer and blogger Jennifer Prevost.


I love it when my friends politely ask, “so how’s that whole writing thing going?” It means a lot that they check, even though I know they don’t ‘get it.’  They wouldn’t understand, but I think you will, even though I don’t have a whole lot to show for it... it’s going great! 

Let me start from the beginning.  One hot summer afternoon a story was born about a little boy named Nathan.  It was one of those moments of pure, energizing inspiration, and the official start to my kid lit journey.  

          For the first eight months, his story was written in rhyme.  In fact, all my early stories were.  Rhyme was the only option I gave myself.  My mantra was “I love rhyme; I can rhyme; I will rhyme,” despite all the signs pointing to the contrary and by signs, I mean, everything I read and two freelance editors advising against it. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a better than average rhymer, but I was in over my head and I didn’t even know it.  Those months are by no means a waste, because I learned a tremendous amount, but I was stubborn. Finally, on April 20, sometime after I was lucky enough to cross paths with Randi, I found the courage to ask for her input.  Guess what she said? Drop the rhyme.  The difference was, I heard it.  I consider that day to be a game changer for me.  I did it, I dropped the rhyme, and forced myself headfirst into my scariest writing adventure to date... writing in prose. 

Since then, my writing has improved dramatically and I’ll be forever grateful for the nudge in the right direction.  Here’s the kicker, the real lesson in it wasn’t that I needed to write in prose.  The real lesson was that I needed to get away from what felt safe and familiar.  I needed the leap of faith that came with making that decision.  I hadn’t ever written in prose, and I didn’t even know if I could.  It was uncomfortable, awkward and difficult. 

Between the versions in rhyme, and my many drafts in prose, I’ve made every text book mistake that novice writers make.  I’ve earned myself rejection letters and a fair amount of creative conflict.  The good news? I can speak the language now.  I have a critique group and critique partners who are quickly becoming dear friends.  I have a few manuscripts that are (nearly) submission-ready.  When I started out, I didn’t have any experience or knowledge on writing picture books.  I do now.  One of the favorite parts of my writing adventure: being a member of the book launch team for Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell.  It’s a wonderful thing, getting to return the favor and celebrate Randi’s success. 

The moral of my story: If you feel yourself stuck in a writing rut, or find yourself hearing advice that feels repetitive, do yourself a favor and try something different.  Take a written leap of faith! There’s a good chance that a different path will hold opportunities you couldn’t have imagined for yourself.  You deserve that chance, and your story does, too. 

Jennifer Prevost is a wife, mom and picture book author of the pre-published variety.  For her entire life, she dreamed of seeing her words in print.  Like so many others, picture books are where she first fell in love with the reading. These days she dreams of creating stories that will help children discover the magic that exists within the pages of a book. Her blog, Magnolias & Manuscripts https://magnoliasandmanuscripts.wordpress.com/  provides an outlet for the energy and anticipation that come with chasing a dream and chronicles her journey (hopefully) all the way to published. 






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