My first publication was, ‘The Wooden Fish’. It was first released in a school journal in 1996.
Being published was such a miracle to me that I thought that I had made it. I wrote story after story. Typing them out on an old typewriter that I had found on the side of the road. I sent each story off to publishers. Each one was sent back with a rejection letter. I kept writing, kept trying. I got so many rejection letters that in the end I wouldn’t even read them. I would just open the envelope, peer in to see the word rejection and biff it straight in the bin.
Each rejection was disheartening, a set back. Perhaps my first book was just a fluke. Perhaps the publishers made a mistake. Was my school right for kicking me out? Was my family correct in saying that I was a loser, a no hoper? I couldn’t accept that. I had to prove them wrong. After all I had done it once, so I knew that I could do it again.
Five years after my first story was published, Taming the Taniwha was released in 2001. It was a fun picture book that I had written to address bullying. Henry Campbell did the amazing illustrations. It was published in English and te reo Maori.
Taming the Taniwha was selected for the White Ravens International Youth Library Catalogue as one of the world's top 250 children's books for 2002 in Germany. It was named one of the top New Zealand picture books by Waikato University in 2010.
Taming the Taniwha is now twenty years old and I still receive feedback and requests for it, from as far away as New York, London and even from a school in Israel where it was used as a tool for teaching tolerance and acceptance.
Five years was a long time to wait. Just as well I didn’t give up eh.
This blog was first published on Facebook and Linkedin July 26, 2021.
Copyright© Tim Tipene, 2021.