Sandy Asher is back today with Part 3 of WRITERS AT WORK: WAIT FOR IT! Please remember to e-mail me any similar experiences you’ve had with resuscitating an oldie in your files and finding a home for it after all. We’ll share as many as we can on the final Tuesday of this Month. Here’s the link again for the collected series of WRITERS AT WORK. http://usawrites4kids.blogspot.com
October 17, 2017
Writers at Work: Wait for It
Part 3: Sandy
WAIT AND SEE
My story “Who’s Ready to Ride?” appeared in the September, 2016, issue of the Highlights magazine for 2 – 5 year olds, HIGH FIVE. Who’s ready to ride, indeed! This story took its good old time getting ready to appear in print.
It all began at a child’s birthday party in the DC area. My great-nephew, then about six years old, was invited to attend. I happened to be in town, so I accompanied him to the park where the party was being held. As a point of reference, I should mention that this same great-nephew will begin college this fall. So at least a decade passed between inspiration and publication. Not quite the record-setting 18 years I wrote about in my last go-round, but a considerable delay none-the-less.
Back to the party: Much to my great-nephew’s delight, pony rides were included in the festivities. A cheerful young woman with a notably patient pony did the honors, and my great-nephew, one of the first to hop on, immediately dashed to the back of the line to wait for another turn. Again and again and again. He was fascinated and fearless.
But what if he hadn’t been? What if there were a guest who was not quite ready to mount that pony? Someone just a little bit nervous about the whole situation? A character took over for my great-nephew, far more shy than he, and the hesitant, gently humorous steps toward self-confidence began to take shape in my imagination.
I liked the story a lot. I still do! It’s fun, and it has something important to say about new experiences. I thought the children, the park, the party, and the pony would provide ample opportunities for illustration. I sent it off to my agent.
She was not interested. I put the story away.
Time passed, and I found myself temporarily between agents. I sent the story out to book publishers on my own.
They were not interested. I put the story away.
More time passed, and I signed on with a new agent. I sent her the story. She —
Oh, never mind, you know what comes next.
Things you can count on: (1) Time will continue to pass, and (2) I do not give up easily! Faced with a dry patch and a drop in confidence of my own, I signed myself up for a number of on-line writing challenges just to keep writing. My own version of “get back on the horse.” (You can read all about this in the July, 2013, WRITERS AT WORK posts called “Making On-Line Challenges Work for You.”)
As a response to one of the on-line challenges, the pony story was among those I pulled out of my files to revisit. By that time, I’d discovered a new market for the kind of stories I enjoy writing — quiet ones, often not “edgy” enough for book publication. No zombies, few dragons. In this case, just a pony and a little boy with “a tickly, tumbly feeling” in his tummy. HIGH FIVE suited me just fine, and in short order, I placed 9 stories and a poem with them, including “Who’s Ready to Ride?” One more revision to bring it into compliance with their length preferences, and it finally WAS ready.
Do I wish it had become a picture book? Oh, maybe a little. But I love Robert Dunn’s illustrations, and the HIGH FIVE readership is huge. I found a copy in my local library just the other day! So I’m pleased, without complaint or apology, that the story finally found its proper home.
“Time will tell,” in writing as in life. You’d think things would cloud over as they fade into the past, but often they snap into focus with astounding clarity. Sometimes when we wait, we truly see.