Reading picture books with our children when they were little made me scratch the itch that had evidently been in me for a long time – the itch to write for children.
I didn’t grow up a reader. At least, I didn’t think I did. But as I look through my memory box, I find evidence that I read more than I remembered. I lived on a farm with very few books in the house, far from a public library, so most of my reading happened at school.
I was surprised to find this entry recently in my sixth grade diary: “I started the book I’m going to write.” January 7, 1959, I started a book! I have no clue what it was about. I suspect it never got finished. But there it was – I was interested in writing even then.
After I graduated from college, married, and discovered teaching wasn’t for me, the itch to write emerged. I responded to an ad for the Institute of Children’s Literature and passed their test. “Write what you know,” the material said. What did I know? Nothing! I thought. I didn’t enroll.
A decade later, my husband and I were blessed with twin daughters. Reading out loud to them the likes of Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb, Dr. Seuss books, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe reignited my itch to write.
When our girls were about ten, I finally enrolled in the Institute of Children’s Literature. I worked my way through three courses in magazine and book writing for children over the next fourteen years. On completion, I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and took the bold step of considering myself a writer.
Since the unrealized sixth grade attempt, I’ve started and completed many manuscripts – magazine stories and articles, picture book texts, even a YA novel. Some of my stories have made it into magazines. And now my break into books has come with the publication of my first picture book, The Seagoing Cowboy.
I don’t itch anymore. I’ve found the salve of writing.