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Re-Writing a Book

A few years ago, I couldn't sleep. I lay in bed wondering what would Hattie do if the land wasn't proofed. I got up and wandered out to the living room in the cabin we'd rented in the mountains for Christmas. I opened up Kirby Larson's Hattie Big Sky and made sure Hattie was okay. As soon as I finished, I downloaded Hattie Ever After (thank God Kindle downloads don't require wifi) and started in on that. I followed up those two by reading everything Kirby Larson has ever written--that I know about.

So when I was reading her blog a couple years later, I took note when she told a story about her struggle to write books. She shared that she couldn't come up with an idea and she wasn't sure how it was going to happen. So she opened up a book she thought was like the book she wanted to write, and re-wrote the whole book. If I could find the link to her story, I would share it here.

Fast forward to a few months ago when I realized I needed to write a book, but couldn't sit down and do it. "I want to write a book," I kept telling myself again and again. But I couldn't. Until one sleepless night when Kirby's words came to me in my sleep. I woke up and started re-writing an entire book. Tonight I finished that re-write. I never realized how much I would learn from that activity. First of all, I felt what it would be like to type out an entire chapter book. Second, I saw what a book looked like on the pages of a google doc. Third, I opened up a sticky note on my laptop and figured out all the word counts I could think of:
Next, I began looking at sentence structure. This book I have re-written is written for the same age group as the one I want to write. So it makes sense for me to deconstruct it and see what I need to do in my own books.

This is the closest I've ever come to being one with a mentor text and I am ever so grateful.

The next item on my book writing checklist:

  • open up a new google doc and name it

But that's for another day. I'm too tired to figure out something that big.

Huge thank you to Anna Branford for inspiring me and mentoring me into my world of book writing.

 Do yourself a favor. Get this book.


  1. OK, I LOVE Kirby Larson!!! She is a wonderful author! That's such interesting advice. I have a question, when you say re-write, do you mean you took each chapter and rewrote it with your ideas or did you re-write those exact words? I love how inspired you are and I can't wait to read YOUR book!!!! Happy Writing!!!

    1. Michelle, I re-wrote every single word. I basically took it a step backwards by putting the book in manuscript format.

    2. That is so interesting! I'm so glad it was helpful!! LOVE this idea!

  2. You're so right, Kimberley, Kirby's writing and stories are wonderful. I've never heard that piece of advice, but I do it with poems. I take a poem I like, type it, then put in my own ideas. It helps get me started when I'm stuck. Now I'm going to try it with one of my picture book ideas. Thank you so, so much! And best wishes in your own writing, too!

  3. Wow! That's an interesting idea! I've never thought about doing that. I'm a writer as well and I struggle with finding time to write. My ideas are coming faster than I can type. I'm stopping over from "The Slice of Life" gang. I enjoyed your post!

  4. This is so interesting to me. How long did that take you?! I just wrote about this on TWT a few weeks ago:

    I wonder how much of that experience you'll call upon when you begin your own book!

  5. You are full of ways to keep the writing life alive and thriving.

  6. You are full of ways to keep the writing life alive and thriving.

  7. Kimberly, there is hope for all of us who would love to write a book through the lens of what you wrote. Thanks.

  8. It has to start somewhere, right? I can't wait to read what you write ....

  9. I love Violet Mackerel's Brilliant Plot! What a great mentor text for you. I think Kate DiCamillo did the same thing. One of my goals for 2016 is to meet Kirby Larson and to read her books. I am sending you thoughts of powerful writing in your future!


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