The first slide in my presentation to school audiences lists various things that I am (author, Texan, dad, cook, dog-lover, etc.), culminating in “Rewriter” listed four times. It’s not that I ran out of things to say — when I visit schools, I talk a lot about revising, so that repetition makes a point.
I want students to know that books, even 32-page picture books, don’t spring fully formed from the minds of authors and illustrators, that there’s always room for improvement. And as exhibits A-D, I would point to four projects I worked on revising earlier this month — one chapter book and three picture books that have been rattling around in my head for an average of something like five years each.
One of them in particular I can remember reading to my now-15-year-old-son when he was maybe four years old. I’ve sworn many times over the years that I’ve gotten that manuscript as good as I can possibly get it, only to be pushed a little farther (sometimes by myself, but generally by someone else) and find that there was still room to make it better, or take a fresh approach to it. That additional effort has paid off for that manuscript once again, and for the three others as well.
I tell students that I am all those things I list on the presentation slide because I love doing all those things. Having months like this one, where I can see my efforts resulting in old projects taking on new life, will ensure that I keep on loving rewriting for a long while to come.