"People often ask me how I stay responsive to wonderful new manuscripts when
I read so many every week, every day. The good news and the bad news is that
really special ones stand out as distinctly as real flowers in a shop
plastic imitations. And it's just like that really. The actual,
has a smell. It isn't perfect, it's colors can be off a bit.
But it's REAL and
you know it. On the other hand, those plastic flowers
represent a syndrome that
results in nine out ten of the rejections I write
every week: let's call it
channeling. Channeling is a common problem to
writers of any sort of piece be it
poetry, fiction, or journalism, but it's
a particular hazard of the various
literary forms that make up the broad
category of children's books: picture
books, chapter books, middle grade
novels, Young Adult novels and nonfiction of
all levels. In most cases, I
believe channeling is not done intentionally. A
writer simply sits down at
his or her computer and sets out to write, let's say,
a picture book story.
Suddenly, that person is possessed by the spirit of Dr.
comes out in rhymed, metered verse, with a plethora of made-up
words to help
make the lines work.”
I really like what he said and I really hate what he said. I like it because
I agree. I hate it because I am sometimes guilty of the "channeling" crime. I'm
going to be argumentative just because I'm about ten hours late posting this
blog and feel argumentative.
Channeling is not necessarily a bad thing if you do it well . I've thought about it a lot since
I read Arthur's article. I've pondered it because he deals in
children's literature and I write for a YA market--most of the time. I've
concluded that to a child nothing is cliche if it is well written. Think on how many retellings with new twists there have been with Cinderella. Though these author's have had to channel a little to get their stories out, they added their own flair and made the stories new again.
But I loved what he said about the real flowers versus the plastic ones. In every contest I've ever judged, the real flowers stood out among the plastic ones and I knew. I knew the winners, because they were the ones who'd taken the time to learn to write.