Sometimes when I visit schools, students ask how long it takes for a book to get published. I tell them that the timeline varies greatly. A few of my books, such as some of the biographies published by Enslow, went from idea to print in just over a year, largely because they had been slotted into the publisher’s production schedule before work even began. A more typical timeline is two to three years, and Daddy Poems took nearly six years to pull together.
One of my current projects, a picture book of beach poems, has been more than a decade in the making. I first submitted a manuscript to Boyds Mills Press, which had just published my Daddy Poems book, back in 2001. The manuscript got rejected, and I decided that perhaps I wasn’t ready to do a poetry book based solely on my own original work. Instead, I continued to compile poetry collections to which I contributed just a few of my own poems. I also moved on to write biographies and history books.
Over the years my collection of beach poems continued to call out to me every now and then. Yet, with a full-time job, a busy family life, and a series of book contracts to fulfill, I never quite got around to answering that call.
About five years ago, a member of my writers and illustrators group, Lisa Goodman, showed us some wonderful beach-related photographs that she had taken. In my mind’s eye, I saw those photographs pairing with my poems to create a glorious picture book. Again, time constraints and other commitments prevented me from following up.
When I left my long-time job with the International Reading Association this past spring to pursue a freelance career, I suddenly found myself with enough time to pursue some projects that had long lain dormant. One of those projects was the poetry book. I contacted Lisa and found that she was excited about the idea of working together on the book.
Over the past few months, we have been hard at work. I have totally overhauled the poems, completely rewriting some of them, tweaking others, and replacing a few entirely. I am amazed at how much stronger the collection is this time around. Meanwhile, Lisa has taken some wonderful new photos, and we are both delighted at how well the text and photos complement one another. Lisa and I are exploring self-publishing options for the book, and we are excited about the prospects.
We are aiming to have a finished book available by spring of 2012. I will keep you posted on our progress.
Random Writing Thought of the Week: For me, the creative process for writing poetry is both different and the same from that for creating nonfiction. It’s different in terms of some of the thought processes involved and the same in terms of the drafting, editing, and rewriting processes.