Saturday, October 1, 2016

A Big Bag of Inspiration

My big bag of inspiration (Thanks, Jude).  This has carried over 800 picture books back and 
forth from the library this year.  A dependable bag indeed.  (Image © Lori Gravley)
I had waited until the last minute to write my monthly picture book.   I found one idea, then discovered a  picture book about her had already been published.  I hadn’t finished the research for the book I thought I would write.  I was starting to feel panicked. 

To assuage the sense of writer’s anxiety, I looked at the picture books I had just collected from the library.  A big bag of inspiration.

I sat down, pulled up my Goodreads account (LoriGravley), and immersed myself in this amazing world we picture book writers and readers live in where pictures and stories live together in joy and wonder. 

I read a book about pirates.  I read a book about a pharaoh’s cat.  I read a few books by Dianna Hutts Ashton and Sylvia Long.  I read some other books (46 total for yesterday, though I stopped to write half-way through).

Then I got up to get a cup of coffee, opened a Word document, and wrote a draft.   Doing a quick first read through this morning before I send it out to my new critique group, I could see all the books I read yesterday in the words I had written: an attention to a very specific detail, a conflict inspired by a little snippet in the pirate book, a detail inspired by a period in history in one of the books.  I had to go online and look some things up, so research is in there, too. My trip to Arizona last month is in there, too.  Something I found in Arizona set the story off. 

The book is nothing like the books I read yesterday, except that it’s a picture book.  However, the books I read yesterday showed up in my book in small ways. 

I am almost done with my picture book challenge (956/1000 books read, woot!).  My librarian asked me what I would do when the challenge was over, and my reply was immediate.  Keep reading.  I may not commit to reading 1,000 picture books next year, but I will still read picture books.  Because I love them.  Because I write them. 

Because they inspire me.


  1. Hoorah for libraries, and for you!

  2. Amen to your Hoorah for libraries and librarians. I have a little treat to deliver to my library when I hit my 1,000 book. They've been superstars. Of course, they always tell me that I up their circulation numbers, so it's a mutually beneficial relationship. But they are always helpful, kind, and ready to help me celebrate little victories. Love to libraries.

  3. Hey girl. just got this here in Germany! Miss you! What new critique group?

    1. I have a new critique group with other members of 12 x 12 this year. Four other writers focused on picture books. Yippee!