I would say that my biggest missed opportunity in terms of writing would be not working more on the writing side of my children’s book. Since I did it through the art school, the art side of it took the clear priority over the writing itself. My professors didn’t even ask to look at the script. They wanted to know what the story was about, obviously, but they didn’t care about the writing itself. All they cared about was my storyboarding and illustrations.
To be fair, they cared about what they understood. I probably wouldn’t have taken their writing critiques all that seriously– they, after all, had never written a children’s book and have spent the last 20+ years of their lives critiquing art. Not writing.
The actual writing part was way more difficult than I initially planned on. Creating a piece that’s only 800 words but describes an entire adventure story is not easy. Just to give an idea of how much cutting and finagling had to go into writing the script, here is the beginning of my first draft:
Ryder doesn’t find much joy in sitting inside. He would much rather be playing soccer, catching new, interesting bugs, wondering how squirrels possibly could climb up trees so fast without being scared of falling.
Today he is sitting on his porch, counting how many bounces he can get on his racquet with his favorite red bouncy ball. Pn the twentieth bounce, the ball hits the racquet on a weird angle and flies through the air, bouncing, rolling, and finally stopping right at the entrance to the meadow.
Ryder leaves his red bouncy ball sitting at the entrance, and walks into the meadow. He isn’t allowed to explore the meadow alone until his eighth birthday, but it’s so soon, just two weeks away. And his mom and sister won’t be back for another two hours, at least. In just a few steps, he can barely see the entrance, the wildflowers growing up tall, so tall, around him. He looks up at the blue, blue sky and laughs. How strange a feeling to be surrounded by something so much bigger than you.
And here is the beginning of my final draft:
Ryder looked longingly towards the Avondale Preserve, the huge garden of wildflowers that grew right outside his backyard.
He walked over to the entrance. His mom and sister wouldn’t be home for another three hours, at least. Just a bit of exploration couldn’t hurt.
After I sent the draft of it (very late in the game) to my mother and she gave me her (very many) critiques, I realized how little time I had put into perfecting the script. Which was a bummer. Because, obviously, the script is a huge part of a book. I’m sure that if I had put as much time into looking up writing inspirations as I did into illustration inspirations, my writing would not have gotten hacked up quite as much by mother darling. She even said to me—in a very kind way—that my book was “great” but could be “terrific.”
I’m still proud of the final project I created. It is pretty great. But it could be terrific.