It was with no small amount of hubris that I announced my intention, back in 2019, to write a children’s book.
The good news was, I had a super-cool idea: a picture book celebrating the women of the Sirens, New York City’s oldest women’s motorcycle club, who I’d gotten to know through my friend’s sister (a member of the group).
The bad news was, I had no idea how to write a picture book.
Luckily, what I did know was you, Gotham.
Back in 2016, you were there for me when I had a one-year-old at home and an idea for a play lodged in my brain. Finding time to write was hard enough; signing up for a class that required leaving the house was impossible. But as a former middle school teacher, I knew I wanted the structure that a class could provide. Gotham to the rescue! I signed up for Richard Caliban’s online Playwriting I class where I was mentored through the process of writing my first ever full-length play.
One play led to two, then three, then more. I went from gathering friends in my living room for a read-through to submitting my work for developmental readings, festivals and competitions. I joined the Dramatists Guild and started attending workshops and conferences. I was on my way to considering myself a bona fide playwright.
And then I got this idea for a picture book.
In a way, it made sense. My younger daughter was three and we were reading a ton of them. I was still deep in the world of toddler naps, which meant I didn’t get out much (or, if I did, it wasn’t for any major stretch of time), so I appreciated the way picture books brought the world to us at home. And the world of motorcycling women was one I thought all children should get to see.
There was no question in my mind where to go next.
Children’s Book Writing I with Maggie Meacham was the perfect class at the perfect time. Like Playwriting I, it was a solid introduction to the genre. Lectures focused on the nuts-and-bolts of both the craft and business of writing for children. Assignments got me to experiment with taking the ideas in my head and translating them onto the page. And the online format meant I could do all this while still parenting a small child.
I took Maggie’s class in the early part of 2019, then spent the later part of that year interviewing members of the Sirens. By early 2020, I’d used those interviews and what I learned from Maggie’s class to produce a picture book manuscript. And it was in Maggie’s class that I learned how to write a query letter and research places to which I could submit. By spring 2020 I had a signed contract, and Everything In Its Place, my debut picture book, was published by Random House Children’s Books in July 2022.
Today, I’m both an award-winning playwright and a published children’s book author with a second book currently under contract. And it’s all thanks to you, Gotham. You did online classes before online was cool. You’ve always believed in meeting people where they were and helping them get to where they wanted to go.
Now, when I browse your site, I wonder where else you’ll take me. Who knows what new genre I may decide to explore? Humor? Memoir? Food writing? Poetry? Wherever my writing journey goes, I know you’ll be there for me, and I’m so grateful.
You can learn more about Pauline and her writing at www.paulinedavidsax.com.