Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Stuck, Unstuck

I’ve been revising my picture book about children and divorce for some time now. The book centers around a child trying to cope with the practical and emotional logistics of living in two households, after a parents divorce. Each round, my editor challenged me to add more emotion to the story. And after each revision, I thought I had.

I’m desperately trying to keep my enthusiasm up here. With each round it gets harder and harder. I feel that it is never-ending and want to move on.

After reading a book this weekend though, I see what my editor has been implying all along. Sometimes it’s a well-crafted word or phrase that can make a character real. I read Jamaica’s Kincaid’s coming of age novel, Annie John and was moved to give the manuscript one more try.

In Annie John, Kincaid skillfully chronicles a young girls growing up in Antigua and includes a lot of complex mother–daughter conflicts. Her lush details about Caribbean life are particularly rich.

In the beginning as I read the first pages of the book, I must admit, I was not particularly moved. However as I read on, each subsequent page captured my attention and I grew increasingly intrigued.

Kincaid has a gift of injecting subtle emotion into her writing without it being overwhelming or pretentious. It just feels natural. I love the way she gets into the head of her characters and describes, through a strong narrative voice, their feelings.

I hungrily read Annie John in one day, finally finishing at 3 a.m. the next morning, when sleep evaded me. Afterwards, I couldn’t wait to apply what I learned from Kincaid. Annie John was just what I needed to usher me on to the next revision of my children’s book.

Adjoa J. Burrowes

Posted in December, 2007