Proving that you’re never too old to learn something new

Something new and a bit different

I’ve just done an online writing course.

As you do while caught up in a global pandemic!

Back in August my sister sent me details of a course in how to write children’s picture books, thinking I might be keen. I have been known to write the odd story or two.

It’s something I’ve often thought about doing!

And I write my blog of course, that’s writing too, but of a different kind.

Funny story: I rang and told a relative I was going to do a writing course and her reaction was to say, ‘but you already know how to write.’ I love her blind faith in me!

About the course

Writing Children’s Picture Books with Australian Writers’ Centre

So with not much else happening in my life (insert sarcasm here) I decided to jump in boots and all. The course was over 5 weeks with a new module released every Monday, made up of notes, audio clips and videos.

And there was a weekly assignment due each Sunday night.

I was excited to be starting something different and the focus it would require. But I also doubted myself and this continued throughout the course.

Here’s the course guide in case you’re interested: Writing Children’s Picture Books

My thoughts on the course

I really enjoyed it! At times you might not have thought so but that was stress and self doubt talking.

The information was interesting, relevant and at times overwhelming. It was all new to me and exciting to be learning again.

You know the buzz you get when you push yourself out of your comfort zone – it was like that.

I learnt that I didn’t know much at all – about writing children’s books, about the industry, the process, the publishing side of things, the pitch, the blurb – all of it was new to me and I soaked it up like a sponge.

Assignments

The assignments were hard. I put a lot of pressure on myself at the best of times, and as mentioned above, my self doubt was running high!

I used my sister as a sounding board and her experience and knowledge were excellent but also hard for me to hear at times. That says more about me than my sister believe me!

I talked to friends who had been librarians in a former life, I sent my words to my daughters and other writing friends – I think I wanted my words to be perfect before submitting them but of course I was there to learn and the only way I could do that was to submit my work and wait for the feedback.

I settled down after the first few weeks and got into a groove.

It was also hard in that we had to write a story using the information we’d been learning about and make it fit the criteria. I felt pressured to be creative and to think outside the square, but I kept going with it.

One assignment was re-writing a part of a book changing a few key elements. I enjoyed this activity and the feedback was positive.

The next few assignments were writing stories from different perspectives, using characterisation, then editing our words to make the story stronger.

We also had to write an elevator pitch and a book blurb for our story. My pitch was a bit weak but my blurb was quite strong.

My back of book blurb:

Millie Moo’s Granny is always fun.  She plays blocks and trains and reads Millie Moo lots of stories.  One day Granny brings a surprise visitor.  She’s old and wrinkly and Millie Moo doesn’t want to hug her.  She is scared. Who is the strange lady?

I learnt a lot! The main take away was ‘Show don’t tell’ and this proved far more difficult than I could ever have imagined.

Would I do it again?

Yes I would and I am already looking at the other courses the AWC offers – there are a few courses for bloggers on offer!

I’m grateful for my support team and especially my sister for sharing her expertise with me.

I don’t think I’m going to set the world on fire with my children’s books but my grandchildren might appreciate my efforts in coming years and that will be enough of a buzz for me.

I highly recommend the course, the structure, presentations, content and feedback were all great.

Millie Moo and the Strange Lady

My name is Millie Moo.

Mummy whispers a secret to me.

Granny is coming to visit with a big surprise!

My tummy does a happy dance. 

Granny always plays with me and reads me stories.

What will the surprise be?

I love surprises.

A new book, crayons or maybe a puppy?

I spin around and around and around.

‘Be careful Millie Moo’ says mummy.

Spinning faster and faster, everything goes blurry.

Plonk!

Giggles bubble out. My tummy does flips.

Mummy laughs.

Here comes Granny, up the steps and I’m in her arms.

Granny crushes me to her. She’s all soft and smells yummy.

I wrap my arms around her and nuzzle into her neck.

But not for too long, I’m not a baby anymore you know.

‘Come on’ I say pulling Granny away, ‘let’s play blocks.’

But wait, who is that?

Someone is with her.

My tummy is all flippoty, floppety. I hide behind mummy’s legs.

I peek out at the strange lady.  Who is she?

She’s smiling at me with her arms out.

Granny pushes me towards the old lady. 

She tells me to give Great-Granny a hug.

‘No’, I say, ‘I don’t want to hug her!’

I don’t look at the old lady.

Up, up, up. The blocks go higher and higher.

As tall as me now!

Crash, bang!

Whoop, whoop, whoop.

I’m the champion!

I sneak a look at the lady’s face.

She grins and claps.

Zoom, zoom, zoom. The train rushes around the track.

I push the red engine and Granny has the blue one.

Crash, bang!

Squealing, we tangle up together.

Granny makes a noise like a donkey. I laugh at her laughing like a donkey.

The strange lady starts to giggle too.

‘Come on Millie Moo, time for a bath’, says mummy.

Squirt go the bath toys. Bubbles explode.

Splish, splosh. I splash mummy and daddy.

The strange lady watches me and laughs.

She looks happy when she laughs.

Maybe she’s not that scary.

Yawning, I ask Granny to read me a story.

We snuggle together on the lounge.

Granny makes all the right sounds as she reads.

‘It’s time for bed now Millie Moo’ says mummy.

One more story first, please?

I kiss Granny goodnight.

I peek at the strange lady. Her face is all wrinkly.

I decide to give her a hug and a kiss.

She smiles and kisses me.

Sleep tight Millie Moo.

This is one of the versions of my final story – yes I had a few different versions rattling around!

I wrote this because it actually happened with my granddaughter when my mother, her Great-Grandmother, came to visit.

animals baby shower banner
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

So that was my writing course. Have you ever done a course like this?

Despite my advancing age and the number of years since doing any study, this was a good way to learn new skills and, as you know, you’re never too old to learn new things!

I’m grateful for everything I have learnt and to all those who have helped me. I’m grateful for the fact that I’m in a position financially and with time, to be able to do something like this. I’m grateful to my sister for pushing me along.

I just wish I could banish those niggling feelings of self doubt! Any suggestions?

Linking up to Denyse’s #lifethisweek with the prompt of Grateful for this

Any thoughts?

Deb 🙂


Debbie

Debbie is an award winning blogger and lives in the small town of Tumbarumba in NSW Australia. Married for 40 years, with three grown up daughters, Debbie and the Mathematician are avid travellers, cyclists and adventurers. Described by others as a ‘hummingbird on speed’ this active mother and grandmother has also received a bravery award from the Queen.

You can also find Deb’s World in lots of other places – stay in touch by clicking any of the buttons below.

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59 Replies to “Proving that you’re never too old to learn something new”

  1. How lovely was that story. Thank you for sharing it. I congratulate you on sticking with the course. Having done a Magazine and Newspaper Writing Course with AWC in 2012 I remember how like a fish out of water I felt. I actually never was cut out to write for money and I had no love of some of the methods we were taught about. That said, I gave it a go and I am pleased to have tried. I considered the memoir writing course with Patti Miller but the costs are huge. Nah, will just do it in my own bloggy way!!

    Thanks for linking up this week, next week, the optional prompt is 39/51 Healthy. 28.9.2020 Hope to see you there too. Denyse.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Denyse. It was much more than I imagined and the information was very comprehensive but I’m happy with the results. You did well too in your course. Like you I’m not cut out to write for money and I’m not sure if I’m cut out for writing books but at least I’ve given it a go!

      Like

  2. It’s a wonderful thing to constantly challenge ourselves to learn new skills and you totally aced the children’s picture book remit. I have a friend who is a professional children’s book author though and she recently confided in me that for every £7.99 book of hers that sells, she gets paid precisely 17p!!!! Shock, horror. Don’t change profession just yet.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I loved your story Deb and as I’ve said before Nana’s/Gran’s are very special people and not so growly like the parents’ LOL Before you get all famous can I get your autograph 😉 I am really happy for you as writing is something you love to do, going by your blogging. Well done, Deb.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Such a great story and yay you for putting yourself out of your comfort zone. Now all you need is some illustrations to go with your story and you’re all set! I did one of the blogger courses at the AWC years ago, it was really good. I did a social media TAFE course during lockdown, it certainly kept my brain busy!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Kudos to you Debbie, for putting yourself out there. And thank you for sharing. I think we all experience self-doubts, many times to our own detriment. But I think as you have shown the key is to press on anyway. I love that you are willing to do that. Keep on keeping on, Michele

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Deb, you are so talented! I love the story you came up with. One of my grandsons used to be afraid of his great-grandma (the mother of my son’s mother-in-law). She was in a wheelchair and I think that threw him. He refused to be in the same room as her. We really could have used this book to help us deal with the problem. Love your story about stepping out of your comfort zone.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh thanks Laurie! It was a bit hard putting myself out there but I’m glad I did. I think that’s all part of feeling vulnerable and gaining confidence. I’m so happy to hear how you can relate to my story. You’ve made me smile 🙂

      Like

  7. Such a great thing to do Deb, and obviously worthwhile as that story is delightful. It must be so different to blogging and so challenging but extremely exciting to learn new ways of writing and to push your boundaries. Really impressed.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Hi Deb – I think you were very courageous to have a go at this – and to perservere to the end (maybe the $$$ you paid helped you stay the course? That would have been an incentive for me to finish!) I think when we expose ourselves to critiquing from others it’s always a threat to our confidence and self-worth, and being able to separate who we are from what we do is another element of self-differentiation that I always seem to struggle with too. You did really well to finish it all so well and to want to go back for more.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Leanne. The $ were well spent with the amount of knowledge I gained and the new skills but I know what you mean, I didn’t want to just throw it away. Putting yourself out there is always hard and I was feeling quite vulnerable sharing my work. You’re right about separating ourselves, so I’m glad I’ve pushed through and tried something new. Thanks for your support and encouragement.

      Like

    1. Thanks Leslie, self doubt is a killer but I was determined to push through. Even just posting my story here was nerve wracking, isn’t that strange when I can merrily blog away? I think any course that extends us is worth doing. Good luck, you have a lot to offer 🙂

      Like

  9. There’s just something about being out of your comfort zone—while daunting at first, feels great later—that gives you a sense of completion. Even though I try my best to avoid discomfort, I too agree that you always feel that buzz once you go through it. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. This is fabulous, Debbie. I’m always excited to hear when someone takes on an adventure or a new experience outside their comfort zone. That’s when growth happens. Congrats on completing your course and singing up for more! #lifethisweek

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Well done, Deb especially sticking it out until the end of the course. Sometimes learning can be difficult but also rewarding and I knew you could do it. I love the story and also that it came from personal experience. Good for you looking to continue with other courses. I’ve just completed a Yoga Life Coaching course which I really enjoyed. I love learning and you are right we are never too old to learn #lifethisweek

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I loved hearing about your experience with the course Deb. Not really sure that I would have the confidence to tackle a writers course. My daughter is a writer and has been trying to point me in the direction of the AWC. I love your story.

    Liked by 2 people

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