I’ve never written a picture book before, but I always thought I would try it one day. Well, it turns out that one day will come very soon, and for 28 days in a row, starting February 1. I recently happened upon the Picture Book Marathon, and after a five second perusal of the site I rashly signed up to give it a go. The Picture Book Marathon appears to have been started by two people of my own home town of Salt Lake City, which I think is special. The idea is that participants will write the text of one picture book every day for the month of February. The project is clearly inspired by NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), but thankfully they’ve ditched a lot of the anal retentiveness of that competition (the obsessive word counts, the emphasis on “finishing,” the need to actually work on the same story every day, all that silly stuff). Novelists may need that sort of thing, but we picture book authors and illustrators are a much more fun, laid back kind of crowd.
I’ve tried NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) a couple of times, and each time I have prematurely ended it 1.5 to 2 weeks later in a maelstrom of stress, guilt and failure. But for some reason this new idea of writing 26 picture books in a month holds no such negative power over me. Maybe this is because I have no great expectations for myself in writing a good picture book. Maybe it’s because I don’t even have a very clear idea of what constitutes a good picture book. Maybe it’s because I will be free to write about whatever I want, and my commitment to a certain story or idea need only last for one day, or even for one hour. Whatever the reason, it sounds like just a whole bunch of fun without a lot of pressure.
I guarantee you right now there will be at least one book about a robot, maybe more. And a talking rock. And an okapi. Definitely an okapi. Yeah, I know you’ve probably never heard of it. I think the okapi has more indie cred than any other ungulate, but it’s going to blow up in the mainstream really soon and one of my picture books will be the cause. Then I’ll write another book about the okapi being a corporate sell-out.
Wish me luck?