I keep a notebook for each book I write. I thought it might be fun to share some of those pages with readers through a series of posts. Today’s post, the second in the series, will focus on my first picture book, Over in the Wetlands.
In going through the notebook I kept for Wetlands (the same one I used for May B.), I was reminded it wasn’t my first attempt at loosely patterning a manuscript after the traditional Over in the Meadow rhyme. Before Over in the Wetlands came Over in the Bosque. (The bosque is a wooded area found along riverbeds in the southwestern part of the United States.) My manuscript focused on the Rio Grande Bosque, a cottonwood forest that runs from southern Santa Fe to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, a winter haven for sandhill cranes.
But I digress! That poor little manuscript never went anywhere, but it lead me to Wetlands, so it served its purpose.
As happens when I write a rhyming picture book, a lot of my notebook is devoted to rhyming words and patterns.
I have absolutely no idea why I thought the rhythm pattern I’ve written above was something that would work. That’s what a notebook is for — experimenting, playing, making lots of mistakes, and finally figuring it out!
I knew a hurricane played a key role in the story (I describe it as the book’s antagonist or “bad guy” when I go on school visits), but I wasn’t sure how to work the storm in. We had a new puppy while I was revising, and one night when she woke me up to be let out, the hurricane’s words came to me in a form that was much more direct and active than anything I’d tried before:
the hurricane stirs, the hurricane crawls.
It’s always interesting to me to see what early ideas make it into the final book — or how one idea inspires the next:
The bayous don’t wind in the final, but they do run. Where the mist creeps ’round became where the silky mist weaves. The cypress don’t stand but they rise.* Where the sun sinks red became where the stillness sighs, / turtles glide under ruby skies.
I really like where the moon rests low. It feels familiar and is a sentiment / image I’m partial to. Have I’ve used something like in another book I’ve published…? I don’t quite remember!
Read the post about May B. here.
*Where the cypress stand is a little joke. Get it?