In elementary school, I had a show and tell, and I bought a Sesame Street book for a read-aloud. My teacher told me that her friend was the author of the text and she got the book signed for me by her friend. I was inspired that day because I could not believe that my teacher knew the author and it allowed me to know that I could be an author one day. The feeling that I got from that experience was so wonderful that I still remember the love that it created for writing in me.
As a teacher, I loved doing read aloud’s with my kids. It was their most favourite part of the day. They looked forward to it because they could imagine the stories that were being told. Seeing that my kids loved reading so much, made me want to write a book that they could enjoy. I also wanted to be sure that writers from the South Bronx were represented and that kids in the neighbourhood I grew up in knew that they could become authors too.
I then made writing part of my weekly routine. Finding time to write can become hard and I had to dedicate time each week to write. It keeps your creative energy flowing. Once I was finished writing my book, I felt really excited about my work. Publishing was difficult because I’ve heard stories of people not getting published. I did a lot of research to ensure that I knew who the best publishers were for children’s books. I made a list and I researched all of the publishers to be sure that my writing aligned to their vision of books that they had for their company. I did get rejected by publishing companies but that did not make me give up. I decided to continue until I got a yes.
The easiest part of writing is that I used a lot of my experiences to make it fun. I enhanced the text using experiences that I was familiar with. The hardest thing about writing is being concise, especially in a children’s text. You want to make sure that your writing is kid-friendly and that your children’s book does not become a novel for younger children. I learned that it’s great practice to continue reading your book multiple times to see if there are any changes that may need to happen. It’s also great to get close friends and family to read it aloud to you so that you can see if it sounds the way that you intended.
Then the books arrived, I actually have a video of me opening my box of books. It was such an amazing experience because I went from being the dreamer to making the dream happen. My name was on the children’s book and it was such a great feeling.