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Twelve Months of Drafting

I am writing my April picture book draft. A story inspired by my cat, Miss Lily.

Since December, I have been working on developing my craft in picture book writing. It’s not as simple as you’d imagine. Picture Books—they’re short, simple—right? Wrong. Picture books are unique and require a great deal of planning, drafting and revising to get the story, the character, the tone and the words just right. For me, they are a chance to use words in a fun and creative way. There is a sense of musicality that I aim for when I pen my stories. Playing with the words is like enjoying a collection of fancy and delectable chocolates. It tickles all your senses.

To inspire me and push me further ahead, I've been proactive and joined two organisations to get me working creatively.

The first one is the 12X12 Picture Book Challenge. This was a find. You join in January to February each year and the goal is to draft a picture book per month. The 12X12 community is warm and helpful and there are loads of advice you can draw from. It’s up to you to submit your draft if you want to—you don’t have to send in the draft. It’s an honiur system to achieve each monthly badge. I submit my drafts. The feedback I've received for my first three drafts has been helpful. Submitting is also helping me to build resilience. Thick skin is an essential feature for a writer as we ride the turbulent waves of rejections and success.

Through 12X12, I have also started a critique group. I am working with seven other wrtiers who are all extremely talented. I am the token Aussie, 12X12 originates from America, but there are writers from all over the world, including fellow Australians, that makes it feel like home. Though, I believe that all writers are just beautiful people—and fabulous.

The next organisation is homegrown. Write Links started in Brisbane for writers and illustrators of children's books. The group meets each month for four hours. There’s always a guest speaker, followed by networking where we hear what all members have been up to during the past month. Their successes always inspire you. The final two hours you spend critiquing each other's work—invaluable.

Writing can be a lonely business, but there is always a group you can connect with. The internet is a gem filled with writing organisations, communities and writing centres you can join. My advice, find one that suits you, for the stage of writing journey you’re at. For me, it’s the opportunity for feedback and to learn more about my craft—the writing, editing and publishing. And to make new friends.

Just one more thing—I thought you’d like to see a photo of Miss Lily.

Happy writing, Valerie Giselle.

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