Over the past month, I’ve had the opportunity to attend two different conferences. The SCBWI Ohio North Conference in Cleveland and the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature One-on-One Plus Conference in New Jersey. At both conferences, the question was raised: “Why Do We Do This?” The “this” being write for children.
Contrary to what many believe, being a children’s author is not the most lucrative profession. Chances are the author of that new picture book you bought for your child or grandchild is not making millions, but instead waiting on a royalty check that *might* cover some of his/her bills that month.
The business of writing can be extremely discouraging. There’s far more rejection than acceptance in the publishing world. Yet, still we writers press on — eager to share our ideas with the world.
So yes, why do we do this? And why do we do this specifically for children? Here are a few of my reasons.
Why I Write For Kids
1) Children live intensely
When you’re a child, everything from what teacher you got for homeroom to what you’re going to be for Halloween is infused with life or death significance. Nothing is mundane, commonplace, or ordinary. Every moment is lived with a certain technicolor vibrance that pales as you get older. If you think about some of your most vivid memories, I bet they come from your childhood. When I write, I love putting on those special childhood lenses that help me to see the world with such amazing intensity and richness.
2) Childhood is a time when we are most truly ourselves
When you’re a kid, you just ARE. You’re still a human being, not a human doing. Concepts like responsibility and productivity likely haven’t crossed your mind yet. Therefore, you are free to devote yourself to what you truly love — free of guilt, free of that nagging thought that you are wasting your time. As a child you enjoy what you enjoy just because you enjoy it — not because there’s a paycheck attached to it or for any other exterior motivation. What a special and glorious time in life! How many of us adults wouldn’t like to shake off the guilt and nagging and return to that place, even if for only an afternoon or two?
3) Children are discovering who they are every day
When you’re a child, each day brings a new discovery — not just about the world around you, but about who you are in that world. With each experience, each choice, you are discovering, becoming and building upon who you are, who you will be and how you will interact with others and the world around you. It might sound cliche to say it, but the childhood years are formative. What better time to cast a vision of all that a person can be than when they are daily asking those very questions and trying to find the answers?
4) Children are fun, and creative, and zany, and. . .
Writing for kids is just plain fun. You can be silly, goofy, imaginative. You can color outside of the lines. Not everything has to fit into the box. Writing for kids is kind of like running around the playground and screaming at the top of your lungs while pretending to be a plane or a secret agent or a flying ice cream cone. It’s pure creative release, and in one word it’s AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If you write for children, I’d love to hear your reasons. Please share them in the comments section below. You may find that answering the question helps to bring clarity and focus to your work. I know it did for me. I look forward to reading your AH-MAZING answers!