As a first-time children’s book author, it is exciting to reflect on the inspiration question. I actually was inspired by a feeling that I had for a long time, which was that I was losing sight of what I will call the good in me – my inner strengths – such as kindness and honesty – and the simple joys of life – walks in the park, strolling along the ocean, gazing up at the moon and stars. It just seemed that I could no longer imagine them in my mind. I was experiencing some stress at the time and thought that stress might be dimming the experience of all of the good things in life. Stress was narrowing my mind’s vision.
With these thoughts in mind, I set out to write a story with the hope of regaining awareness of my inner strengths and sensitivity to the beauty in the world. And, of course, for readers to learn and grow from my experiences and their own in reading the book.
We All Live On This Planet Together (Indigo River Publishing, 2017) was born out of these thoughts and what emerged was a poem focusing on how our negative feelings are the dimmers, and that being mindful of strengths and focusing on pleasant experiences can help us cope in difficult times. It does not mean not to acknowledge and accept these negative feelings. It means that shifting the focus to the positive puts our experiences in perspective.
Aside from inspiration, authors are always asked what they found easiest and most difficult about writing a book. I love to write so that made it easy. I love to write in rhyme like Dr. Seuss and it is always fun for me to make words rhyme, but frustrating sometimes. My father used to write poems for me as a child and I never had the confidence that I could write ones of my own. It took years before allowing myself the liberty of expressing my own voice. Inspiration can come from the little moments in life to powerful experiences that have had major life impacts. It is not the size of the experience that counts as much as our emotional connection to it.
Writing the book also was relatively easy because I chose a topic that has personal meaning and therefore could connect to it emotionally. I believe that it is easier to write from our hearts and this is where I wrote from. When we get stuck in our heads, we can experience writer’s block. The voice of judgment also comes from our heads, not our hearts.
What do I find the most difficult about writing a book? Judging my writing- thinking that I am not good enough, the work is not good enough, and that other people will judge my work harshly. I have learned over time to try and write as much as I can, to get it out there, and then critique what I wrote later. Write first, edit later. Judy Blume, the famous children’s book writer, wisely said, “I am not a good writer, I am a good re-writer.” I also have learned to listen to critiques of my writing more acceptingly, and learn from them rather than feeling like I want to throw in the towel and give up on writing when a negative review comes my way.
For anyone considering writing a book, think about an experience that you really care about – whether it a good or not so good life experience. Write about it. This is what I mean about writing from the heart. Don’t over judge it or think that it has to be a finished product. Just get the words and thoughts out there, and with little judgment they will form a whole over time. With judgment writing is more apt to be fragmented or blocked.
Keep writing whenever you can with no grand expectations, but with the goal of enjoying the writing process. Enjoyment is more apt to bring forth the most creative ideas. Dreading writing with anxious expectations is another story and not one with a happy ending.
Lastly, writers from the heart never give up. Writing is a journey that we should continue once we embark on it. There will be ebbs and flows, but those who are writers at heart will never put their pen down and say that they are not writers. You cannot disregard something you are. It will always come back to you seeking expression.
Today’s guest blogger is June Rousso, Ph.D. Dr. Rousso is a licensed psychologist with a specialization in positive psychology practicing in New York City. She has written articles on well-being from a positive psychology perspective. We All Live On This Planet Together is her first positive psychology book geared toward children.
Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.