Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Five Year Plan

It's now two and a half years since I first set myself a goal - to become a children's writer and illustrator. I call it my 'Five Year Plan' and I am half way there.

So how far along the road to being published have I come and is that necessarily part of the plan? Can I call myself a writer yet? It seems I'm asking more questions than telling.

It all started in 2006 when we took a six month self-drive family trip around Europe, the UK and Canada with our two kids aged 11 and 14. As family correspondent I kept over 50 friends in Australia and New Zealand amused with the emails of our adventures. After receiving positive feedback, my emails became more and more like storytelling and even now 3 years later I still bump into friends who tell me that they waited eagerly for each email and missed them terribly when I returned home and they stopped.
Here's an example:

The Italian Job. 11/7/06 (photo)

We are hurtling down a narrow Italian street late at night. Horns are tooting. An Italian car is chasing us, flags waving as vespas cut in and out. We have French plates and a big F on the back of the car. There is no chance of escaping incognito. As we come to an intersection cars swirl around us, Italian flags ablaze and fireworks go off on the street. It is a close escape from the little piazza in Tuscany where minutes earlier we sat next to the fountain watching the final of the World Cup projected onto an old stone castle wall, sipping beer and licking ice cream with the sun setting behind the cypress. Imagine if France had won.

Remember that the emails were written 'on the hop', in a mad rush before the internet time we had paid for ran out. There was no time for editing, re-thinking etc. It was just get your impressions down quickly. In the beginning we called ourselves 'The Griswalds' after the movie 'European Vacation', but by the end we had earned the name 'The Incredibles' like the super-hero cartoon family.

What I realised by the end of the trip is that I loved writing and together with my passion for drawing I might be able to incorporate the two. One day I will write up the story of our family trip.

After completing 3 creative writing courses at the Gold Coast TAFE on our return, I was hooked. My twenty plus years experience as a teacher of primary and high school students found me writing for children. I am now a member of SCBWI (The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) and the Queensland Writers Centre and I subscribe to various online writing groups and newsletters. I am also somewhat of a workshop-a-holic, loving the opportunity to learn from and network with other Australian writers at conferences, seminars and workshops.

This year two of my children's stories were short-listed for the Charlotte Duncan Award, through Celapene Press, I have had a reputable Sydney literary agent submit two of my picture book manuscripts to publishers on my behalf and my application for the series of workshops 'Write That Book' with Louise Cusack, subsidised by the Gold Coast Council, was accepted (there were only 16 places and 60 applicants).

I have recently completed a light-hearted urban fantasy for 9-13 year olds and through the 'Write That Book' workshops I am currently writing the sequel. The first has been entered in the 'Voices on the Coast' competition and I am now preparing to submit it to publishers.

My motto sits on my desk: Pursue your dream until it becomes a reality.

As I sit under my apple tree, dreaming, I hope that you too are pursuing yours.

Thanks for visiting. Here take some pie home.