Good Advice

Ann Whitford Paul

I am blessed to count among my friends the talented Ann Whitford Paul (if you don’t have her book, Writing Picture Books, run right out and buy it!).

She recently took a trip to Africa and shared an insight gleaned from that trip in her newsletter, Paul’s Post. Watching a pair of wild animals put her in mind of what it means to be a writer and I thought it was worth sharing. I asked her if I could reprint her thoughts here and she graciously said yes. Here they are:

While on safari in Africa I discovered that writers, in order to survive and succeed, must take on attributes of different wild animals. For example, notice the picture of the egret riding on top of the rhino [apologies to all: I couldn’t import the photo ~ Kirby]. When the rhino walks, it scrambles the muddy grassland, exposing bugs and seeds that make up the egret’s diet. That made me think about how we, too, must ride on the backs of writers who came before us. If we do not study other authors and read other books, we will be constantly reinventing the wheel. We must not be afraid that we will sound like them. Instead our unique voice will join with theirs, creating something completely new.

Sign up for Ann’s newsletter for other thoughts about writing, inspired by her amazing trip.