Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Usually the boys I babysit for aren't too interested in my books and writing. But when the topic was TRUCKS, all that changed. The four-year old lugged down a volume the size of an old encyclopedia (all devoted to trucks) and began eagerly turning the pages and explaining the various vehicles. The ten-year old supplied the names KIDS use, and some of the sound effects.
Soon I had quite a long list of truck names and sounds, and both boys helped me pick the ones that would be the most popular with kids....but the ten-year old wasn't sure we had made the right choices.
"I know! To find out what kids really like, let's look at Mitchell's trucks."
It was quite a collection, and encompassed most of the house, and, with his brother's Leggo creations and planes, the entire dining room table.
There were far too many to include (these pictures do not do justice to the range of the collection, but you get the idea), so we asked him to show us his favorites.
By the end of the afternoon, I was confident that I'd made the right choices, and liked the names of the trucks and Mitchell's onomatopoetic sound effects, too. At home, I made my final selection and then, while trying to get the sounds right, found this amazing Web site: the sounds of every truck on our list and many more. Here, for your listening pleasure, is a plain bulldozer. There are many more exotic ones.
On Monday, or maybe as I write this, my agent is sending the ms. out to editors -- but whether anyone buys it or not, I had a lot of fun researching it and writing it.
And that, this year, for me (I am NOT presuming to advise anyone else), is the point. If *I* don't have fun doing this, I might as well "be an accountant or something."
The quote is from Anna, in one of her posts on this blog. I forget what the main topic was, but she, while acknowledging some of the disadvantages of being an artist (and let's face it, there are MANY), concluded: "At least I don't have to dress up in a suit and be an accountant or something."
Not that there's anything wrong with being an accountant, I'm very grateful to mine. He makes probably about 20 times what I do -- but, at least when I'm doing research and writing books like this one, I do enjoy what I do. For a long time I thought of my writing as a way to make money, and when I thought of it that way, I put myself under the kind of pressure that wasn't productive, and felt, was, poor all the time, too. If you can count on your writing or artwork to make money: GREAT. Lucky you! I know, I know, it's not just luck, it's talent and hard work as well. If you've made it, well done! Bravo!
I'm just saying that for me, thinking of it this way works better. If I genuinely enjoy what I write, and can make enough money from my freelance work and babysitting to live on (and as our loyal readers know, now I do), I really can't lose.