Writers and artists – indeed, any creative – are on the job 24/7.
They might not be literally sitting at the drawing board or keyboard working on a project, but they are always watching, listening and observing. Art and stories spring to life with real energy and emotion. That’s how great art gets made.
Most times, the people, situations and circumstances we are observing are “out there” … meaning it’s all happening to other people and not us. We’re on the outside looking in, and we empathize with the players.
But there are times when all the drama is in our own lives, and we’ll be on the inside observing from a whole different perspective. This is tougher, but really much more valuable, because now we’re actually feeling the emotion of it all, instead of merely observing and imagining how the situation feels to the players.
And as I clean out closets and rearrange rooms, it's happening to me: I'm not just a spectator to all the drama, I'm a player, too, living it out! It's a whole new chapter in life, one I've never lived before, and there's lots to learn and figure out.
This site is all about children’s books, and I know that many times those are very simple and sweet. Not many of us are going to write one of those 800-page epics full of plot twists and complicated characters. Still, all art is about real life, whether it can be told in 800 pages or just 32 pages or even a single page. What we live becomes a part of us, and whatever is a part of us gets poured into our work.
Art imitates life, and the best imitations are done by people who really know the real thing. And whether in our books and stories the life lessons are blatantly declared or subtly implied, they ARE there and they WILL get picked up on by the readers.
So do take the time and expend the energy to learn your craft. Find out what readers want and what publishers need. Live life and keep your observation skills sharp. Savor every minute, whether full of joy or sorrow, and learn well the lessons life teaches you, so that, when the time comes, you can share those lessons with someone else who needs to learn.