I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while… but I’ve been endlessly second-guessing myself… and ruminating… and what-iffing… (y’know – the usual stuff I do!)…
For those of you who have been on this journey with me for a while… you’ll know that I intended to write and illustrate a lite, kid’s version of “How Heather got her HAT’ness back”. I even mentioned this plan in the very last page of my book!
Here’s a photo for the evidence file:
My book (although a full-colour, illustrated rhyming poem)… was never intended as a children’s book. It was simply the most authentic way for me to tell my story.
When I put the first pages up on the blog some time ago… I received a few letters of response from people who had assumed it was a book aimed at children. A handful of folk objected to the word “sucking”. Someone else felt that the rat-popping page was inappropriate and would upset kids who kept rats as pets.
And then there’s the pages that I hadn’t shown on this site until today (see below). There’s things about self-abuse, eating disorders and low self-esteem. There’s a brief mention of a cheating husband… and yes – there’s a poo. I drew a poo. I didn’t write the word “shit”… but I drew one. And anyone who reads that page knows that the missing word is “shit”… because it needs to rhyme with “admit”.
So… suffice to say… and especially, I think, for more conservative parents – it’s probably not a book they’d choose from the children’s shelf at the local bookstore.
So… I decided that the best thing to do was to offer an alternative: a “lite”, children’s version of the book – which I’d publish later. I would remove all potentially offensive material… and I’d make it all happy and kid-friendly… and then I’d offer it up for sale as well.
And… I tried… to create it.
I really did.
But here’s the thing about children’s books…. they are ‘the’ most politely-politically-correct genre of all book genres!
You can’t write what you really want to write… you can’t say what you really want to say… you can’t speak how you really want to speak. You have to keep reminding yourself to tone-it-down, be-polite, don’t-say-or-imply-rude-words….don’t write, draw or imply anything that could potentially piss off parents and/or teachers…
… because children’s books are supposed to be NICE… and SWEET… and HAPPY… and SAFE!!!
And so – the more I tried to create my “lite” version of ‘How Heather got her HAT’ness back’... the more I began diluting myself, my message, my words – and slipping back into the very same hole that the book is (supposed to) be celebrating my escape from!
I have found that I just…. can’t… create this nice, meek-and-mild watered-down version of my story. The lite version was shallow, dull and insipid. And so… not ME.
I’m not a children’s author.
Not because I don’t want to communicate with kids… because I do. I enjoy kids (I have two of my own aged 8 and 10). And I especially feel so-very-deeply for the different kids. Those who don’t FIT.
But writing children’s books requires me to be very measured and very careful with my words and my views… and – y’know – I’m just so DONE with biting my tongue and people-pleasing. Those days are over. I want (and need) the freedom to be ME…
And that includes the freedom to create the books and stories that I want to create… without watering myself down.
(And – holy-cheesecake – if people are already upset by the “sucking” word… and the rat-popping… and the poo-drawing… they are going to HATE my next book!)
So – it’s probably best to jettison all those expectations right now – and set the record straight for once and for all!
- I’m not a children’s author. I love children – but my books are not intended for the children’s section in the book store.
- Even though my books aren’t intended for children… there are still children who love them. Especially older children.
- I create quirky, messy, irreverent stories about real-life and real-experiences… written in the form of rhyming poems. See it as Dr. Seuss – for grown-ups!
- Sometimes I write rude words or express unconventional (potentially controversial) opinions on all kinds of subjects. Sometimes I draw things that conservative folk may consider impolite or inappropriate.
- My books aren’t for everyone. But the tribe’sters will get it. And that’s who I’m searching for – that’s who I want to connect with… that’s who I’m creating these books and blogs for: my kind of peeps… my Tribe.
So, there you have it.
For those of you still unsure about whether the original version of “How Heather got her HAT’ness back” is an appropriate fit for your children… here are the most (potentially) controversial pages featured in the book (and you can decide yay or nay)…
Of course – other than the pages above… the rest of the book is mild – and it ends up with lots of bright, happy, positive pages!
But for those of you on the fence – now you know what’s in there and you can decide whether it is – or isn’t – age-appropriate for your kidlet.
If it’s a book you’d like to own… or give as a gift… or whatevs… here’s the lowdown:
- To order on Amazon – click here.
- If you’re in South Africa, it’s cheaper to order directly from me because the cost for Amazon to ship the book to South Africa is significantly more expensive than the book itself! I charge R170 for the book and the shipping is R150 (delivered to your door in 2 days). Click here to order from me.
- To download a high-res PDF of the book – click here.