I just finished a first draft of my picture book biography, the first nonfiction piece I've written since Bill was acquired by Lee & Low Books last year. In the future, I'll refer to this book as The Woodsman.
Writing fiction is hard work, but it doesn't compare to the difficulty of writing a biography . . . in my opinion. With fiction, when you get stuck, you can make stuff up. You can't do that with a biography, unless it's a fictional biography, and I didn't want to do that.
There were so many challenges with writing this book. For one thing, when I began, I had little information to work with. My subject was born in the 1800s, so my first attempts at research produced nothing more than a paragraph or two about him. But in the end, thanks to the kindness and generosity of a complete stranger miles away, I had more information than I could use.
Although my subject isn't well known, much has been written about him. For reference, I had several newspaper articles, photographs, a copy of a rare book, an extensive interview with a family member of my subject before she died, an unpublished children's book about the subject written by an aspiring author before she died, and several other things that I can't mention without giving away too many clues.
This is all so exciting, but it's also nerve wrecking, too. I can't help but feel like someone else is writing this same story and just might beat me to getting it published. What a terrible feeling that is.
For now, I'm returning to work on Effa, I'll do an SCBWI Editor's Day writing conference, then I'll attempt a rewrite and revise (it's about 800 words too long).