Friday, December 9, 2011

Chugging along with PiBoIdMo

Sketch made in a café for PiBoIdMo Day 26. Who knows where it will go?

This past November was a busy one. I took part in Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo created by Tara Lazar) and as ARA for SCBWI France worked on its Regional Conference set for December 2nd and 3rd. I wrapped up PiBoIdMo and headed off to Paris on the very fast train (TGV) from Brest at 6:42 am in the pitch black— a rather lonely time of day at the train station.

I stared out the window at the dark landscape speeding by and thought back on my 30 ideas and could not remember one single distinct idea. I decided that they must really stink if I’d already forgotten them. It was a little sad but somewhat typical of me so I took out my PiBoIdMo notebook and a printout of the December 1st Post-PiBoIdMo blogpost "Pat Miller Follows Through" to change my mindset. Pat advised this newly graduated class of 2011 PiBoIdMo’ers to turn back to our ideas (oh boy! I was already one step ahead) and look them over each day, adding to each one— plot points, characters, conflicts.

Reading the idea from Day 1 I remembered that very day— out in the sunshine taking a walk with my daughter to get to know this new place where we’d recently moved. We checked out the neighborhoods, found the local library (only to see a poster announcing that it had just closed for renovations), kept walking and came upon a row of semi-detached houses. This reminded me of a trip to Ireland where I met my Great-Uncle Willie Green and he proudly showed me a mural of the town when they lived in rows of thatched roof cottages. Then I got the day’s idea.

The train chugged on. I continued to plow through my ideas still feeling sleepy and still thinking the ideas were a bit stinky (not stench-level stinky but lacking). I kept reading, started to add a bit here and there, to really think. The time passed as the TGV zipped along. I looked up and the sun was rising. And that’s all it took to feel better about my ideas— reading, thinking, adding, a little sunrise and VOILA! I will keep going.

I think that’s what I like best about PiBoIdMo— every time I think I won’t have another idea, I do. Then I think I won’t have another good idea and I keep trying, making better. All the support and solid advice PiBoIdMo provides makes it so much easier.

I hope to carry what I’ve learned with me all year long and bit by bit turn a few of these ideas into something more.

Thanks to everyone (especially Tara)!


  1. Love your café sketch! You are so right, it gives us the confidence that we will continue to get those new ideas!

  2. Hi Joanna! Thanks! See you at the 12x12!

  3. Ce petit croquis est croquant tout plein!!! j'aime la manière dont l'enfant se hisse sur la pointe des ses "petous"!...
    Gros bisous et merci pour votre très chaleureux message laissé sur mon blog.
    A très bientôt.

  4. Love your post...what a dream, to live in France. Hope you settle in soon!

  5. Thanks, Vicki! We've lived in France for a long tie now but this city is new to us. It's nice and we're making our way little by little. :)

  6. Reading your post I wondered if you had read my mind. When talking to people about PiBoIdMo they would often ask "What ideas have you come up with? " I couldn't recall a single one. That's why writing them down is a good idea. I too, wondered if any of them were worth anything if I couldn't remember them. Flipping open the binder I keep them in, I was surprised and delighted. Did I really think of this? It's even more amazing to look at the ones I wrote last year.

    I will be working on mine as well. The 12 X 12 challenge will see to that!

    Thanks for your insights.

  7. Hi Lynda! So nice to know that others often have similar reactions, right? Looking forward to bumping into you at the 12X12 Challenge!