It’s been just over two months since my last blog post - blimey! Where does the time go, Otto is now FIVE MONTHS OLD if you can believe it and finding time to write is a rare thing. Which means it feels even better when I manage it - I’m in my element right now!
I thought I would write an update on my children’s book, The Handsome Heart. If you’ve been following my story and blog (and a massive thank you if you have!), you’ll know that when I was pregnant with the Otster I decided if I was ever going to find the time to write a story about organ donation for children, it was likely going to be before having a newborn! So I signed up for a local writing for children class and, over the six week course, created Rex.
Being pregnant wasn’t my motivation for writing a children’s book - that was just what made me get on with it! Ever since my transplant I’ve been trying to raise awareness for organ donation and it very quickly became obvious to me where the message would make the most impact. As they say - start ‘em young!
My first attempt at writing the story was over a year ago. And there were many half-hearted attempts since. But joining the class helped me bin everything and start again. Only when I did that did I really see just what a load of crap I’d written. I don’t think I appreciated how difficult writing about organ donation and making it palatable for children would be. But as soon as I tried, I realised that writing a story where somebody has to die and that has to ultimately be a good thing, was rather bloody hard.
One attempt saw the organs themselves being the characters. One attempt used cats and dogs. One was with superheroes. None of them felt right in any way. I finally decided I had to distance the characters from the readers quite substantially, while still getting the idea across pretty obviously. Finally I created Rex the robblet in a story aimed at early readers. This is how it begins…
The Handsome Heart
In case you hadn’t noticed, you are a human, not a robot. To understand this story you need to know a little bit about robots. Or at least a little about their insides!
[Diagram of a robots’ insides - very similar to humans’ insides, only brighter and squarer and with a clear glass flap so they’re always on show.]
Rex’s Rusty Heart
Rex the robblet - that’s a young robot - has a rusty, creaky heart that doesn’t work all that well. Every morning Rex’s mum oils his heart to keep it ticking. Although this helps loosen him up, the oil leaks down into his boots. So then he’s leaky and creaky. Not to mention the soggy feet.
That doesn’t stop Rex going to robo-school every day though. He loves it. Well, he loves almost all of it. During playtime he has to sit out so his heart doesn’t get even creakier, which isn’t ideal. Instead of playing, Rex builds things with bits and bobs he finds and collects. Building stuff isn’t too shabby really, just not quite as much fun as racing his mates and climbing trees, as robblets like to do, just as much as children, you know.
One day Rex and the other robblets headed off on a school trip to visit Spootle’s Scrap Yard. In robo-world, a scrap yard is where the broken robots go if they can’t be fixed.
Spootle was very proud of his scrap yard and started his grand tour the moment the last robblet hopped off the bus. Rex liked Spootle straight away. He had a huge smile! But, if you looked very carefully, his eyes didn’t look quite so happy.
Over the last few weeks I lovingly perfected and tweaked The Handsome Heart and sent it out to five carefully selected literary agencies. It is with a knot in my gut and not a small amount of embarrassment that I can report so far two of them have politely rejected me and Rex.
I sway between thinking ‘ah I tried, I’ll just focus on Otto and the Rift Marathon for now’ and ‘no! This message is too important!’ Never has the phrase ‘if it was easy everybody would do it’ felt more appropriate and never have I felt my donor urging me on more.
The Handsome Heart V2 will be coming soon.
Any advice would be SO SO gratefully received! Thank you xx