The next day I wrote a little more. I always write in pen. It removes the ability to erase anything and you never know when a line that doesn’t quite fit, will fit somewhere else. I also write the first five drafts of any short story in my writing book and then when I think it’s getting closer to the final version I’ll transfer to the computer. I’m old school, I can’t help it.
Over the course of the next few weeks the full version found its way onto the page. I wrote four drafts. The final one was rather long, about 1500 words and I wasn’t sure if it fell into any category. Too long for a picture book, too short for a chapter book. And so it sat, scribbled in my book for about a year and a half.
Then one day as I was packing up the house to move I found it, reread it and thought that I really quite liked it. I rewrote it another three times.
I had a look at who was accepting unsolicited manuscripts and then I looked at their catalogues for the last two years to see which one I thought it was suited to. There really wasn’t any choice to make except for Penguin. So I typed it up, emailed it off and then…I waited.
After three months I decided that it had been rejected and promptly forgot all about it. I had a young baby to look after and my daughter had started Kindergarten so my mind had plenty of other priorities at that time.
After six months however, I received an email from Heather Curdie, the Senior Editor in the Books for Children and Young Adults at Penguin. Heather could see some potential in the story but agreed that in its long form it didn’t quite fit into any category. She asked if I would consider rewriting as a picture book and submitting again.
Heather’s response took me rather by surprise for, you see, I hadn’t expected to receive any interest in my story. Thankfully though there was interest and so, since I’m not too proud to take guidance with my writing, I grabbed the opportunity quickly and rewrote Suri’s Wall in around about five hundred words. I killed my darlings, so to speak, and once I was done I really believed that the simplicity thereby gained gave it much more power. This time I knew it was good and I sent it back to Heather.
Penguin accepted it, and then the fun bit began.