I’d like to introduce you to a talented children’s author that I have met recently. I first discovered her children’s book Willy and the Weirdo and I just loved the story behind the story. I invited her to share more about herself today on my blog.
Welcome, Marcy, tell us about you and your writing…
Have you ever wondered where children’s book ideas come from? Sure, there are whole months dedicated to help authors find ideas—poor ones, great ones, publishable ones—like Tara Lazar’s Story Storm each January.
In fact, a number of my published books have come from events just like that, or the notions they inspire. For example, one might look for ideas in nature, in art, by eavesdropping on conversations with kids and adults alike, reading other books, a TV show, etc.
But what I’ve learned through the years is that these idea-hunts often leave us on the surface of where good ideas come from.
The reality is, good stories come from deep within us. From our own childhoods, the joys and the wounds, the celebrations and sorrows—the moments that made us feel.
These moments, the feeling moments, are where great book ideas come from. Something in nature, or art, or the private-public conversation, the show, or the book, made you feel something. It resonated with you on a deep level. Cognitively, you might just think it sounds nice, but deep down, something in your soul was stirred. And that stirring grows, and grows, and grows until you birth a book.
Take my book Weirdo and Willy for example. Willy is a kid who is bullied each day for being… well, weird. He’s different. He eats strange foods, plays unique games, wears interesting clothes. His classmates tease him, calling him a weirdo each day. But one day, a Weirdo actually shows up. And he wants to play. Thus begins a crazy tale of a creature who wants to play, and the kids who find him terrifying. You’ll have to read the book to know how it ends. 🙂
This idea first came to me from a blog post encouraging authors to think of childhood stories that they would re-write if they could. Maybe with a different ending or different characters.
Immediately I remembered being in fourth grade in P.E. on the softball field. It was time for my team to line up to bat after our stint outfield. I returned to my original place in line, but the kids around me said we were forming a new line. So I headed to the back of the line. But the kids there said we were lining up in our original spots. I had nowhere to go. I asked the teacher for clarification which led to an all-class chant in my direction: Nark! Nark! Nark!
As I re-imagined how this moment should have gone, I pictured a big, huge Nark, a creature, showing up and eating all of the kids chanting at me. After many revisions, the Nark became Weirdo, and I became Willy.
Someone commented on how the bullies in Weirdo and Willy don’t have a major “aha!” moment. Initially, this bothered me. Weren’t the bullies supposed to be repentant and changed? But then I realized something even better… Willy didn’t need the bullies to change. He needed to change—and he did. He needed to know that he was valued, lovable, and perfect just the way he was. He didn’t need the affirmation of bullies to make him worthy of friendship. He found that inside of himself and with this unique, unexpected connection to the creature Weirdo.
This was my story, too. It’s many of our stories. Most bullies don’t come around transformed and repentant. We have to discover that our worth and value are not tied to their treatment of us. And so, Weirdo and Willy, without my even knowing it, was a wrestling with my own childhood “demons” of bullying. Thirty-seven drafts later, I went from needing the creature to eat all of the mean kids, to realizing I don’t need mean kids to be nice… I need to love myself.
This is true for each of my books. Speranza’s Sweater came from my experience as a foster and adoptive mama and therapist, journeying with kiddos in between families and homes, wanting them to see their story and feelings reflected on my pages. Tercules, the sweet, wild turkey chick who feels “too much” was a reminder to myself that I’m “just right.” According to Corban and Bath Time Magic both feature my son, Corban, and his vivid imagination. However, with a careful eye, you’ll see that mama has a story too, in the artwork. (Corban has been asked if his mom really turns into a dragon sometimes. The answer is yes!)
These are the deep things that inspire us, even when we don’t realize it. Kids are especially good at digging deep and expressing their inner struggles creatively. Sometimes we adult lose that gift along the way. Together, through our stories and theirs, we can experience those feeling moments anew, with hope, redemption, and inspiration for stories to come.
Marcy Pusey loves her family, exploring the world, reading, the ocean, and looking for castles to visit. She also loves sharing stories that encourage and inspire others. Marcy is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, speaker, coach, and the best-selling author of books for adults and for children. Learn more about her work, writing, and other resources at www.marcypusey.com.
Marcy’s books are available wherever books are sold, including Amazon, Target, and Barnes & Noble.
You can also find her on Facebook: http://facebook.com/marcypusey
Thank you, Marcy, for sharing your story and helping us understand where books really come from, from deep inside of us. It’s so true. I can attest to that as well.
And thank you blog readers for stopping by today. As always likes and shares are encouraged and appreciated!