“There’s No Wrong Way”
At it’s heart, There Was a Hole is a book about loss and helping readers learn a way to manage the complex emotions that come with it. These emotions can be BIG, scary, uncontrollable, and even unwanted. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. And it definitely doesn’t mean they should be ignored.
Everyone experiences loss in their lives. Even children’s book authors. Several years ago, I went through my own time of loss. As an author, my natural inclination in times like that is to look for books that deal with what I’m experiencing. Unfortunately, sometimes you just can’t find a book that lines up. When that happens, a good author takes matters in their own hands. They ask themselves; can I write a story that acknowledges the feelings I have. That shows they are valid, normal feelings everyone has? And most importantly, that there are things you can do to help yourself feel better?
It turns out that you don’t have to be a children’s book author to do this. Anyone can write a story for themselves. And the cool thing about writing for yourself, is that YOU get to choose what you write about. My path to writing this book is a long and winding one, but I’m going to lay out a few things that should help you write your own. Hopefully, writing your own story about loss, or fear, or whatever, helps you better understand how you are feeling and might even start you down the path of recovery.
First, and most important, there’s NO WRONG WAY to write a story for yourself. Writing the story doesn’t commit you to letting anyone read it. Remember, this exercise is for you and you alone. When, and to whom, you show your work is completely at your discretion. That said, here’s the steps I take when writing for myself.
- Come up with a great character name.
We’re going to put this character through the ringer. It’s probably best not to give them your name. you don’t want to run yourself through the events we’re going to plan below. Pick a different name. Something cool. Something unique. Something fun to write about. Maybe Cleo, or Duke, or Ephemeralia. Any name you want.
- Decide what the big event should be.
The main plot of our story will hinge on what this event is. It should be something extremely important to our main character. The bigger the event is to them the better. Maybe Cleo is a skiing champion who moves to a town with no snow. Or Duke’s pet gerbil passes away. Perhaps Ephemeralia has to start at a new school…with none of her best friends. These might not be huge issues to me, or even you, but they are MASSIVE for Cleo, Duke and Ephemeralia.
- Pick three bad things that our main character can do in response to this event.
This is where the fun begins. What terrible, horrible actions can our main character take because of what happened to them? Do they yell? Do they scream? Are they scared to meet new people? Can they break something accidentally? Pick something you think might be scary, or would get you into A LOT of trouble. Once you have three, or more, put them in order from least bad, to most horrible.
- Think of something our character can do to atone for their actions.
Sure, we’re talking about causing all kinds of trouble, but that doesn’t mean our character can get away with their behavior. In fact, until they acknowledge their actions, they will never be able to recover from the effects of the original event. So, how do they overcome, or at least address, the mess they’ve become making? They don’t need to make everything better, but it would help if they start down the path.
- Find a good place to sit and start writing.
Now’s the moment we’ve been waiting for…writing. Don’t worry about making it perfect, or even good. Just get words down on paper. There’s plenty of time to revise and edit later. If that’s what you want. Remember, this is a story just for us. The key thing is to get it out. To write it. Once that’s done, you’ll already be on the path to recovery. The next steps are up to you.
Published March 15th, 2022 by Sleeping Bear Press
About the Book: Lily has a hole. It eats her joy, makes her angry, and–no matter what Daddy does to try to help–it just keeps growing. So Lily retreats. But a friend lets her in on a secret (he has a hole too!) and shows her the best way to repair holes: spend time on friends, family, the things you love, yourself, and kindness. Those patches don’t make the hole go away, but they help. A lyrical and age-appropriate story for learning to cope with grief and loss.
About the Author: Adam Lehrhaupt is the award-winning author of more than a dozen books for children, including Warning: Do Not Open This Book!, Chicken in Space, I Will Not Eat You, Wordplay, This is a Good Story, and Sloth Went. He has traveled to six continents, performed on Broadway, and lived on a communal farm. He currently lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA, with his wife and two sons. Follow Adam on Twitter and Instagram @Lehrhaupt, Facebook @adamlehrhaupt, and at adamlehrhaupt.com
Thank you, Adam, for this great guidance for writers!