Yay! Look what I got today. An advance copy of my latest picture book, Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Gorgeous illustrations by the talented Sarah Davis and a CD with the story narrated by Antonia Kidman.
Many years ago, when I first started out trying to write stories for publication, I wrote a story called The Baker and the Bunyip. It was, at the time, the "best" story I had written. I loved it and was very keen to see it get published.
In my enthusiasm to find a publisher, I rang the editor at an established trade publishing house and very cheekily asked: "Do you have an aversion to stories with talking bunyips?"
The editor laughed (thankfully!) and said, "Well, actually, yes. Talking bunyips aren't really my thing. But send it in anyway as, after all, it is all in the telling."
Well, obviously, my "telling" at the time wasn't quite up to scratch as the manuscript was quickly rejected and returned. But that bit of advice - it's all in the telling - stuck. It is the one truth that informs all my writing to this day.
No matter how wonderful your story idea, how exciting your plot, how quirky your characters - it all comes down to the telling. To voice and style. To the way your words flow into sentences and weave their magic on your readers. It is all in the telling.
Now ten years on, the editor I spoke to is a very well-respected publisher.
The Baker and the Bunyip was reworked and became The Baker and the Bush Beastie. I sold it to Macmillan Education in 2005. (Seems it's okay for bush beasties rather than bunyips to talk!)
And I am now an editor who very frequently utters the words: "Well, it's all in the telling, really ..."