David A. Adler is a master when it comes to writing picture books, or any other kind of book, for that matter.
Since he first set out on a writing career more than forty years ago, he has published more than 150 books, including the award-winning picture books The Babe and I and American’s Champion Swimmer: Gertrude Ederle, as well as his popular Cam Jansen Mystery series for middle grade readers.
As a child Adler loved to draw and tape funny signs around the house. And he loved entertaining his younger brothers and sister with stories, too.
“I’m still making up stories,” Adler says.
Writing is a process for Adler.
“I begin with a story idea, with the main characters, and the setting,” he says. “I struggle most with the voice and how I will tell the story.”
That struggle to tell the story, says Adler, involves constant revisions.
“It’s so much easier, I think, not to try and get the story just right in the first draft, to leave that for the second and third drafts,” Adler admits. “My best stories have been rewritten scores of times.”
But all his work pays off in the end.
His first published story, A Little At A Time, was published by Random House in 1976, and it’s a sign of the quality of his work that Holiday House is publishing the book again with new art in 2010.
Adler was kind enough to take a break from his busy schedule to share his thoughts on writing with Wordswimmer.
Wordswimmer: If writing is like swimming...how do you get into the water each day?
Adler: Writing is like swimming! The only way to get into the water is to jump in. Don't over think the process. Just jump in and write.
Wordswimmer: What keeps you afloat...for short work? For longer work?
Adler: I keep rereading what I've written and that takes me deeper and deeper into my story.
Wordswimmer: How do you keep swimming through dry spells?
Adler: How can there be dry spells in swimming? Being dry can only mean you stepped out of the water. If I get stuck working on one manuscript, I start or continue work on another. I find it helpful to work on more than one project at a time.
Wordswimmer: What's the hardest part of swimming?
Adler: The hardest part, I find, is discovering the voice for my story and that comes at the very beginning.
Wordswimmer: How do you overcome obstacles, problems, when swimming alone?
Adler: Writers always swim alone. I try not to put too much pressure on myself, not to demand a great first draft. But I keep rereading and rewriting until I'm satisfied.
Wordswimmer: What's the part of swimming that you love the most?
Adler: It's the swim I love, not the jumping in the water, and not the stepping out. I love the rewriting, just playing with my words. I feel somewhat sad to finish the final rewrite and have to send off a cherished manuscript.
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