I signed up to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), where seemingly normal people try to crank out a 50,000-word novel during the month of November. I was making decent progress until last Wednesday, when words failed me. This is the first thing I’ve tried to write since the results of the election. Like millions of others, I was online for hours every day, reading news articles, blog posts, and social media posts. There were so many words out there, reflecting so many emotions and opinions. It became overwhelming and exhausting. After a while, it felt like every word I read removed a word from my own well of creativity. Even reading fiction felt draining rather than transporting. I wasn’t sure how I was ever going to start writing again. And then, just yesterday, I saw this GIF on Facebook. (Thank you to Lynda Mullaly Hunt for posting it!)
I was riveted by this little gnome, knitting tiny animated love bubbles and sending them out into the universe. I kept it on my screen for hours. I couldn’t explain why. I mean, sure, it’s really cute, but I’m not a knitter and I’m not obsessed with gnomes – evil, zombie, or your average garden-variety, um, garden gnome.
And then it occurred to me that this little gnome was the perfect metaphor for what all kid lit authors do. We take the fibers of our imagination and twist them into threads. We then spin these slender strands of creative thought into yarns — stories. We knit multiple characters’ stories together into a larger whole and release it into the world. Our books are our animated love bubbles, and we send them out into the universe to tell children that we see them, we hear them, we accept them, we love them. And now, more than ever, children need to hear these messages.
I went to a writing workshop today. The warmth and affection I experienced there has gone a long way to refilling my creative well. I even got to sign my debut book to a young child for the first time. I hope she enjoys my love bubble. I’m ready to continue knitting the next one tomorrow.
Andrea Wang’s debut picture book, The Nian Monster (Albert Whitman & Co.), is a Chinese New Year folktale retelling set in modern-day Shanghai. She has also written seven nonfiction books for the educational market and is working on a middle grade novel. Andrea is a former environmental consultant who now writes full-time. She recently moved from the Boston area to Denver, where she lives with her husband, two sons, and a dog that will do anything for food. That pretty much describes her family, too.
You can find Andrea online at http://www.andreaywang.com and on Twitter under @AndreaYWang.