Monday, March 31, 2014

Hello, Poetry Month!

First of all, I'd like to add my "WELCOME, Laura!" I’m so happy you’re here. Happy, too, about all the poetry you and April and JoAnn have been posting. That has me itching get back to writing more of my own (I was going to say you all were infectious, but that didn’t sound quite right).

Since we’re headed into conference season, I thought I'd post a relevant poem I wrote a few years back. Just before a fall conference, my SCBWI regional advisor called and asked if I’d get up on opening night and give sort of a “what not to do” talk regarding conference etiquette. (We’ve all heard horror stories of writers following visiting editors into bathrooms to talk about their manuscripts, right?) Then she added, “Make it funny. And how about writing it in rhyme?” Ack!

So, using a method very similar to Laura’s when she writes nonfiction poetry, I sat down and jotted a list of do’s and don’ts, then began tweaking and taking everything way over the top. Here’s the final product:

How to Impress an Editor

It’s my first time at a conference.
This? My brand new picture book.
Let me hold your glass of wine so you can take a better look.
See? It’s bound and fully laminated.
Here’s the copyright.
Just look at how the silver glitter sparkles in the light!
My nephew did the illustrations for me.
Aren’t they great?
I’m developing a series. This is number one. Of eight.
Yes, you are a little peaked.
Let’s go over there and sit.
What? You have to do the schmoozy thing and “work the room” a bit?
I’ll come with – and show you photos of Chief Kitchy-coo, my dog.
He’s the hero of my story (written all in dialogue).
See, he flies around Chicago with his mother, solving crimes.
It’s a shoe-in for that Printz Award.
And check this out … it rhymes.
There’s a song at the beginning.
There’s a moral at the end,
and a note reminding children that the story’s just pretend.
I’ve already got endorsements from the ASPCA,
and I’ve sent one to the Oprah show. I wonder … do they pay?
Oh, you have to hit the ladies’ room?
No problem. I’ll come, too.
While you’re taking care of business, I can read aloud to you.
Hon, is everything OK in there?
You need a helping hand?
What? You have a splitting headache?
Sure, of course I understand.
You can take my little story to your room and read it there.
No, it’s quite all right. Yes, I insist. I want you to, I swear.
Let me walk you to your suite.
Oh, it’s no trouble, none at all.
Well, for goodness sake, we lucked out. Look! 
My room’s just down the hall!
Here’s an Advil for that headache.
Here’s my card. Know what? Take two.
Now, remind me of your name, hon, and … you edit books for who?
Take a hot bath.
Take it easy.
Don’t you let the bedbugs bite.
Ow, ow, ow! My foot was in there.
We’ll talk soon, then.

After I read the poem to the group, one editor took me aside and said that, sadly, the fictional writer of my poem wasn’t far off the mark. Yikes. Jane Yolen, who was one of our speakers, told me to send it to The Writer (which was still in business at the time). I did, and they published it in their April 2008 issue.

If you write rhyming picture books and haven’t yet signed up for Angie Karcher’s brand spankin’ new RhyPiBoMo, head on over and register:

You can sign up until April 16th – and remember to enter the RhyPiBoMo Golden Quill Poetry Contest. Even if you don’t officially join in, you can follow along daily. Angie has lots of rhyming picture book authors lined up to post each day with tidbits of wisdom to help you improve your own rhyming picture books. See all the details on Angie’s site.

Jill Esbaum

P.S.  If you haven’t yet entered for a chance to win Laura’s Water Can Be…, hurry! You only have a little more time!


Linda B said...

As a writer who might want to publish, I'll be sure to post this, Jill. Oh my, is it really close to true? Advice well given, advice taken!

Jill said...

A little scary, isn't it, Linda? Makes me wonder about the crazy things editors have experienced...

Carmela Martino said...

Great poem, Jill! And, unfortunately, I've been at conferences where attendees have done these very things!

Patricia Toht said...

This is a hoot, Jill!

Jill said...

Thanks, Carmela and Patty!

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Oh, Jill, your poem cracked me up! It's a perfect summary of reminders. Thanks also for the reminder about RhyPiBoMo!

Jill said...

Glad it made you smile, JA!

April Halprin Wayland said...

FABULOUS strange-but-true poem, Jill--wow!

Jill said...

Thanks, April!