IN PURSUIT OF DELIGHT
My mission statement, which you can read at the top of my Manuscript Wish List post, specifies that I look for books that delight readers.
On my introductory phone calls with writers, I always read this mission statement so they can get a sense for who I am as a person, agent, and reader. And so they can see why I gravitated toward their work.
On a phone call with a writer recently, I mentioned that I found her work particularly delightful, and I thought readers would too. “Delightful projects are tough to find,” I explained.
“Really?” she asked in disbelief.
It seems that most of the picture book submissions that cross my desk are either too serious, or too didactic. They’re out to teach, inform, or carry out their agenda, and the story gets lost in the lesson. They lack delight. If you’re not sure what delight looks like, it looks like this: kids giggling, cackling at times, kids gasping, kids cheering as the story is being read aloud to them. Delight is NOT watered down commercialism-fueled projects with no substance, or a trend-chasing concept. It’s a story filled with twists and turns and all the good stuff.
I particularly love working with librarians and teachers, because I feel like they have their fingers on the pulse of what kids find delightful. They’re surrounded by kids so they can’t forget what it is that kids like. When they write, they’re not writing with a hypothetical child in mind. They’re writing with specific names and faces in mind. Real life wiggly kids with sticky hands who want to be delighted by stories, rather than scolded by them.
I’m hoping to spend the rest of my career in pursuit of delight.