When I was ten, I wanted to be a writer or an archaeologist. Or both. Then I grew up and did neither.
For the past three years, I’ve been serious about writing picture books. And as most picture book writers know, when the ideas start flowing, we can pump out manuscripts left and right. And as most picture book writers know, they aren’t always good. But we continue to write for the love of the form, for the practice of our craft. One or two might rise to the top, but the others…well, they might get buried on our hard-drives. Mine do.
Recently, I’ve decided to pursue that archaeology thing. But instead of digging in a remote location looking for arrowheads or shards of pottery, my expedition focuses on excavating picture book manuscripts in the strata of my hard-drive. Why? Two reasons: I want evidence of my evolution as a writer and I want to find and preserve valuable artifacts.
Some of the remains at the very bottom of the dig are painful to read. Like my first picture book about a little toe. (Evidence I’ve evolved as a writer: In most cases, MC should be a whole kid, not part of a kid.) But the valuable artifact I see in this manuscript is whimsy and a twist, qualities I can preserve and use in future manuscripts. As I work up through the layers, I see assemblages of manuscripts that are more sophisticated, that reflect the input of trusted critique partners and other industry professionals. While some of these manuscripts in their current form might never sell, as a story archaeologist, it’s my job to figure out which manuscripts are worth dusting off and analyzing. After all, these old relics might have good bones.
Kellie DuBay Gillis entered her local library’s Be-An-Author contest (and won!) when she was ten. She hasn’t stopped writing since. She’s member of SCBWI and Verla Kay’s Blueboards, where she met Laura. In addition to picture books, Kellie is working on a middle grade novel and is one of the weekly #mglitchat hostesses. She lives in Fairview Park, Ohio with her husband and two kids. When she isn’t writing, she visits yard sales hoping to score a vintage purple Schwinn tandem bike like the one at www.kelliedubaygillis.com