“If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Toni Morrison
As a homeschool educator I am responsible for selecting the curriculum my children use for school. As their history teacher I want them to have a well-rounded perspective of world history and not just learn it from one perspective.
History taught only from the majority culture will exclude many experiences from the narrative. I want my children to be able to analyze historical accounts and to have the skill to determine whose voice is missing from the story. They can gain this skill simply by asking questions.
Asking questions can be a powerful way to discover new thoughts, ideas, and perspectives. In fact, I started writing my first manuscript after sitting in a bookstore and viewing about about 40 children picture books on display about New York. None of them featured an African American. So I posed the question to myself: How did African Americans contribute to the development of New York City?
“I, myself, write to change my life, to make it come out the way I want it to. But other people write for other reasons: to see more closely what it is they are thinking about, what they may be afraid of. Sometimes writers write to solve a problem, to answer their own question. All these reasons are good reasons. And that is the most important thing I'll ever tell you. Maybe it is the most important thing you'll ever hear. Ever.”
This one question led me on an exciting journey. Not only did I want my children to know the answer to this question but I felt it was significant enough to share with the world.
I began to dream about the potential ripple effect this knowledge could have on the children in the United States. The pride, the dignity that could be transmitted through my story. There is so much power in the written word and it is my hope and prayer that my passion for history will make a difference in the world.
"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world."
So my question to you is this: Is there a book you really want to read but does not yet exist? Start asking questions and you never know where that simple exercise might take you!
Writing is hard work. New to the field of writing, I never anticipated the amount of time taken up by revisions.
When I first started my manuscript, I wrote it as a non-fiction book in about 3-4 months. After attending my first writer’s conference, the 21st Century Non-Fiction Writers Conference, I realized my story was not ready to send out to literary agents. It needed more work.
“Put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.” — Colette, Casual Chance, 1964
In fact, it needed a complete remodel in order to transform it into a historical fiction piece. This process took about two months of writing and another month of revisions and edits.
Initially, when I interviewed my agent I knew I wanted to work with her because of her editorial style of approaching her clients’ work. You see all agents aren’t willing to help you enhance your manuscript before its sent to the publishers. I actually had a few agents tell me that my story was very interesting but because my dialogue needed some work they weren’t going to offer representation.
I was so happy to know that my editorial agent was willing to help me perfect the manuscript giving it a stronger chance of getting purchased by a publisher. Right now I am in the revision process and with each rewrite it becomes so much better.
“By the time I am nearing the end of a story, the first part will have been reread and altered and corrected at least one hundred and fifty times. I am suspicious of both facility and speed. Good writing is essentially rewriting. I am positive of this.” — Roald Dahl
I agree with Roald Dahl and have seen firsthand how good writing has come from my rewriting. So if you have to revise for the 100th time---do it with the confidence of knowing your story will be all the better!
Ayanna is a debut author that enjoys writing fiction, historical fiction, non-fiction, and poetry for children. She finished her first manuscript in 2015 and is currently working with a literary agent to represent her work to Publishing houses.