Looking Back on CWIM: The 1994 Edition
An Interview with Rosemary Wells...
The is the year I fell in love with Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market. I was splitting my time working as editorial assistant for Writer's Digest magazine and working as a production editor for market books. (I had two desks on two different floors and two phone extensions. This drove Bev in the mail room a little crazy--she just retired after a bajillion year at F+W. Bev was the eyes and ears of this institution, sort of like Carl the janitor in The Breakfast Club.)
By now CWIM was up to about 375 pages and the price was up a dollar from the last edition, now at $19.99. As production editor for the book, it was my job to field all the information coming in through the mail (the snail kind--no email yet), and make corrections on a hefty galley copy of the book. I also spent several months carefully proofreading every word of every listing in the book (a luxury we enjoyed due to our generous staff of about 15; now we have 6).
Today I'm excerpting from an "Insider Report" with Rosemary Wells, author of the beloved Max and Ruby books:
"A good children's book has to stand up to 500 reading aloud," says Rosemary Wells. "The only writer who can do it well are the once with a 'voice.' You also need a sure knowledge of what children are about. You don't necessarily need to have to have kids, but you have to be very close to your own childhood. There are a lot of people who try it, who love children and children's books, but it falls apart because they don't have these qualities."
Wells urges writers to avoid turning storied into vehicles for causes or moral lessons. "One mistake a writer can make is to try to teach a lesson or write a story for a cause or an idea," she says. "Write about character and the rest will follow. Otherwise, you run the risk of having the cause become your character. If my book have certain points to them, that's because they come along with the story, but what I try to do most of all is to give humor and character."