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by Katey Howes

I’m going to be honest with you all. In the past twenty months, I have had tons of ideas. But I have not written all that much.

And I was really upset about this for quite some time. Frustrated with myself. Disappointed in myself. Worried I’d never get back in the swing of moving from inspiration to actualization.

Then I reflected on a conversation I’ve had with countless students during school visits. We talk about my book BE A MAKER. We discuss how there are many kinds of makers in the world: writers, artists, robotic engineers. Chefs, directors, architects. Minecrafters and perfumiers and lawmakers.

I tell the kids that the very best, among all kinds of makers, have one simple thing in common.

A notebook.

Because making anything requires resources. Time. Money. Materials. The right team. The right supports. The right equipment. The right level of skill, focus, or knowledge. The right level of faith in yourself. You may not have the resources you need right now. But you can get them later. Days later. Years later. Half a lifetime later. And when you do, you’re going to want that idea close at hand.

So you put it in your notebook.

Like DaVinci. Like Einstein. Like a Storystormer.

The kids often worry that the ideas will have gone bad, have worn out, by the time they have the resources to bring them to fruition. They aren’t alone in thinking this. I reassure them (and myself) that that isn’t the case. That it is natural for ideas to lay dormant, like seeds, until the right conditions surround them.

Seeds can wait for water, I tell them. They can wait for spring. They can wait for decades—centuries!—if stored properly. So can your ideas.

After having this conversation many times, I wrote “Seed/Idea” in my notebook.

After many more months listening to kids, taking poetry courses, learning to believe that my words and experiences matter, I realized I had acquired the right resources to turn this idea into a book.

And so I wrote A POEM GROWS INSIDE YOU. It’s the tale of a child who holds a seed of a poem close to their heart, not sure how to put it into words…until the rhythm of raindrops patters onto their skin, seeping through, bringing that long-quiet idea to life. It wraps roots and vines through the character’s body, and then, like a seedling questing for the sky, it reaches for the light.

That part is hard for me. When my stories want out, I want to keep them to myself. No one can dislike them, criticize them, judge them, if I keep them inside, in the dark.

But I remind myself (with this book, among other methods) that other people are some of the greatest resources for shaping and supporting my creations, for pruning and trimming and encouraging my seeds to grow.

I am so blessed to have had the courage to let A POEM GROWS INSIDE YOU out into the light, to be seen and pruned and fertilized first by my critique partners, then by my agent, Essie White, and at last by the incredible team of book gardeners at The Innovation Press. I am astounded at the ways illustrator Heather Brockman Lee has brought it to verdant, blooming, bursting-ripe life. (Take a sneak peek here! You’ll be glad you did.)

And now I want to use this book, the process of its dormancy and its growth, to reassure and advise all of you. Especially now, at a time when, I suspect, bringing ideas to life is tough for many of us.

Do not despair or give up.

Do not judge or become frustrated with yourself.

Instead:

  • Store the seeds of your ideas.
  • Trust that they are safe in dormancy. That it is natural.
  • Check on them once in a while. Remember you have them.
  • Assess the resources you need to grow them. Time to yourself? A class on meter? A brainstorming session with trusted friends? Research? Chocolate? Mentor texts?
  • When they begin to take root, to sprout and to reach—be brave. Let them into the light.

I look forward to seeing how they bloom.

Katey Howes is a haphazard gardener, a good rhymer, and a fun mother. She’s also the award-winning author of RISSY NO KISSIES, BE A MAKER, and a growing assortment of other books. In 2022, Katey is looking forward to the release of A POEM GROWS INSIDE YOU, illustrated by Heather Brockman Lee (The Innovation Press, Fall 2022) and WOVEN OF THE WORLD, illustrated by Dinara Mirtalipova (Chronicle, Fall 2022). You can find Katey on Twitter @kateywrites or on IG @kidlitlove, or check out her author page kateyhowes.com.

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My Books

Coming soon:


TIME FLIES
"7 ATE 9/PRIVATE I" BOOK #3
illus by Ross MacDonald
Little, Brown
April 26, 2022

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