The Groundhog! From Bright Idea to Bookshelf
I had no idea when I started writing children’s books that it would take me more than twelve years to make my dream come true, or that the path to publication is rarely a straight line. So, here I’m sharing each phase in the life of my picture book To See or Not To See, starting with the “what if…” wonderings and ending with my announcements of the multiple awards it will win. (Writers like to dream…)
I was born on February 2, Groundhog’s Day, so groundhogs have always had a soft spot in my heart. Every year, I cross my fingers that my birthday buddy will not see his shadow and that spring will come early. (I live in Michigan, so really, no matter what Groundhog sees or doesn’t see, winter sticks around until at least May.) But a few years ago, I started to wonder – what if I could convince Groundhog to make my dreams of an early spring come true? What if there were others who’d want Groundhog to make winter last six more weeks? What would Groundhog say? And so it began – the seed for To See or Not To See, Groundhog’s dilemma as his friends try to sway him to “fix” his weather forecast on February 2.
It took me a couple of weeks to write a first draft, and years of on-and-off revisions to make it a story that an editor didn’t automatically reject. That editor, the lovely and discerning Yolanda Scott at Charlesbridge, had read four of my previous picture book manuscripts (which she surprisingly passed up but I still think she’s brilliant) but on this story she asked me to revise it. No other time have I been so happy to be asked to rewrite my work!
A few months later, I got an email. My editor liked my revisions so much, she wanted more of them! More revisions.
I rewrote Groundhog’s story again, sent it off, and waited. Weeks passed. I was sure Yolanda was crafting a kind way to let me down easy. Instead, on my birthday, she called me with the best news – Charlesbridge said yes. And then the news got better – they wanted my husband, Matt Faulkner, to illustrate it.
So now we’re at the delightful “yay our book is going to be published in two years wow that’s a long time” phase. I’ll get the next round of edits this summer – didn’t know that the revising continues even after the book is bought, did you? Yeah, me neither. So, more rewriting for me, but until then, Matt and I wondered: which Groundhog would you like to see, or not to see?