Friday, August 29, 2008

I finished the first draft of The Woodsman

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photographs, a copy of a rare book, an extensive interview with a family member of my subject before she died, an unpublished children's book about the subject written by an aspiring author before she died, and several other things that I can't mention without giving away too many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).


PJ Hoover said...

Yay for the finished draft! That feels good!

Rinda M. Byers said...

Don't worry AT ALL that someone else will get to the same subject first!

No one else is going to write about this subject as well as YOU can.

Your "take" on the subject is always going to be different and unusual, I would say for sure.

The subject is a GENERAL idea. Anyone can write a biography of Michael Phelps--or Abraham Lincoln.

It's how the biography is done and how it's written and for what audience that matters.

Russell Freedman won the Newberry for his biography of Abraham Lincoln. Think how many other writers had written about Lincoln, such a well-known famous figure in history, before Russell did!

THEY didn't win the Newberry!

BEST2U First draft done, oh, well done indeed!

Audrey said...

I had the same feeling about Effa, Don! I was positive that there were ten people writing her story as I was trying to get it down. Congrats to you on finishing the first draft--that's fantastic!

J. J. Hebert said...

Congrats on the finished draft. Feels great, doesn't it?

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