in which writing kidlit is hard

Why Writing Kidlit is Hard – A half formed thought by Mackenzi Lee

Today I had a job interview. In the middle of it, I had a brainwave. I did not share this brainwave with the interviewer, because it’s still sort of half formed in my head, and I didn’t want to look like a totally inarticulate moron1 if it didn’t pan out.

So here’s what I was thinking about writing for kids, and why it is so hard. Because it is. For those of you who read picture books and think, “I could do that!” Try it sometime. I dare you2.

As adults writing for children, we are looking back on our childhood and remembering what it was like to be a kid. But kids have never been anything but kids. They don’t have to look backward, they just look around.

So when adults write, we3 bring with us our insights and baggage from both childhood and adulthood, and the perspective that comes with it. But kids don’t have this reflective vision. That’s why writing for kids is so hard, because kids don’t have that ‘extra perspective’ that comes through in your writing, so it becomes really easy for them to spot people who are faking it. As a kidlit writer, you have to find a way to take yourself back to a time when you weren’t looking backwards at yourself.

But I think that’s also why so many adults are drawn to kidlit. It’s very appealing to be able to go back to a time when you didn’t have adult worries. We can go back to a time when things made more sense, or experience the problems that we felt at the time were so earth changing, but in the end really weren’t. Or sometimes, in certain YA books, they are earth changing. We don’t want to have to look back at our youth, so we can experience it all over again through kidlit. .

Wow, yes, really good I didn’t bust this one out in the middle of my interview. This might not have gone over that well.  I will stop now.

  1. In other news, Microsoft Word just autocorrected moron to Mormon.
  2. Okay, it’s hard to write a good kids book.
  3. We…Oh no. Guys, am I an adult?
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2 thoughts on “in which writing kidlit is hard

  1. M G HAHNEL says:

    Hi Mack, I always enjoy reading your stuff. Sometimes I learn stuff. Sometimes I get amused. Sometimes I just admire your creativity. This time I am dying to know which job you interviewed for. Things here are good. I got the picture/poster framed (replaced the glass as I dropped the framed job when I tried to hang it). So, I think of you every day I see it hanging on my travel wall. I will send you a picture soon. Going to St. George next week and then I leave for Vienna 3-7 to return 3-28. When I return I go to St. George again for a 3 day golf tournament and then I continue to So. Cal. for a week of more golf and R & R. Finally had oral arguments (my attorney did, I just watched) at the Court of Appeals. Will take 6 months to a year to get a ruling to see if I get my 300 K back and can get a new trial. So, no major expendiatures until I get a ruling. I always enjoy hearing from you. I have stayed in contact w/Dell, Soledad, and Joan (one of the sisters). Tried to send Nancy an e-mail but it came back. Take care of yourself. Date: Sat, 23 Feb 2013 00:05:15 +0000 To:

  2. Billy says:

    Every once in a while you just totally blow me away.

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