One of the things I have learnt about writing is that at certain times in my career, a ‘no’ has been more significant than a ‘yes.’ One of my most significant ‘no’s’ happened early in my career, when I laboured for over six months on a sequel for ‘Sweetie May,’ only for it to be rejected. Once I got over the wound to my ego, I eventually went on to write a much better sequel, with a radically different storyline called, ‘Sweetie May Overboard,’ which was eventually accepted with much rejoicing.
Although I hated getting that original rejection, today I have to admit I would happily kiss the feet of my ABC editor—because she respected the integrity of my first book and taught me as a writer, that I had an inherent responsibility to serve the text, rather than forcing it to serve me.
In some ways, the whole experience taught me so much about writing; the importance of being able to give up characters and storylines that don’t work, the importance of being patient, of allowing ideas to ripen on the vine rather than greedily snatching them unripe. It taught me that something bright and better could rise out of something bitter and ashy. Importantly, it taught me not to go ahead and write a sequel ever, unless the idea for the second book is significantly better than the first. This advice from my editor was something I really took to heart when it came to considering whether I would write a sequel to my picture book ‘Bear and Chook.’
So, here’s to editors all over the world! Three big cheers for their wisdom, their firm loving-kindness, courage and insight. They are always the unsung heroes of every book!
CBCA Book Feast Notable Books List
“‘Sweetie May Overboard!’ is a satisfying example of inspired silliness. The imaginative but simply written text is sprinkled with jokes and none-too-subtle puns that read aloud most successfully. Children enjoy the deliberate reversal of the pirate stereotype – fastidiously neat and soppy about babies instead of ruthless and dirty...the free-flowing line work of Millard’s text captures the flavour of the text perfectly.”
“Once again, Lisa Shanahan and Kerry Millard have created a rollicking tale of pirates on the high seas. With its use of humorous names and rhythmic, repetitive language, ‘Sweetie May Overboard!’ is a perfect book for newly independent readers, as well as being a fun book to read aloud...It does not patronise young readers, who surely deserve stories and language as interesting as Lisa Shanahan’s. Kerry Millard’s illustrations are generously spread throughout the book and bring much humour to the text. Very highly recommended.”
Notable Book 2002: The Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book of the Year for Younger Readers.