Monday, June 28, 2010

An accidental story?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a letter on behalf of my dog. My niece and nephew, ages 4 and 6, are coming to visit from out of town. They haven't been here in two years. My niece is somewhat afraid of dogs. She likes small dogs, but it takes her a while to warm up to large dogs like mine.

To prepare her for the visit, I sent them both the book Why Do Dogs Do That? I'd had a copy for years, left over from my preschool teaching days. When I thumbed through the book, I realized I needed to personalize doggy behavior specific to Coal. So I wrote a letter to go with the book. I wanted the kids to make a connection between their own feelings and actions and Coal's. Like in this paragraph, for example:

Coal went to doggy school, so he’s very good at listening to directions. He can sit, lie down, stay, and wait to eat a treat. He loves to go on walks, and gets very excited if he is going somewhere, either in the car or just on a short walk. Sometimes when he is excited, he jumps around and he may bark to let us know he’s happy. Don’t you jump around and get loud sometimes when you’re excited?

Apparently, the letter was a hit. My niece listened to my sister read the whole letter, and even laughed at parts. Afterward she said, "Mommy, I didn't used to like Coal, but now I do." So now, instead of being afraid to come visit, she is excited.

The true test will be when they arrive today. But here's the funny part: everyone I've mentioned this to thinks I should turn this letter into a picture book manuscript.

The weird thing is I feel kind of defensive about it. We all know of people who, with no knowledge or interest in writing and publishing for children, say, "I made up a story and my friends and family think it would make a good book. How do I publish it?" Right? I feel like I should know better. That it takes more than a ten minute pass at the computer to make a picture book.

But then again, armed with the knowledge I have, I could revise this, and maybe come up with a publishable story. Right now, it's way too long. 563 words, to be exact. But I may work on it. Who knows? I may have written an accidental picture book.


Piedmont Writer said...

It sounds sweet to me. Perhaps a generic kind of thing the adults could fill in the blank for the dog. My name is _____. I jump when I _____. I love cookies and ______. I like to petted on my _____. Could be worth it. No?

TerryLynnJohnson said...

OHH! I am so excited about this! It sounds fantastic! and much needed! I could be a little biased on the side of anything dog related, but I do think you have a winner here! go for it!

Michelle said...

Thanks, guys! It worked, actually. She did really well when they arrived. She needed to hold her mom's hand for a bit, but then it was all good.