The first stanza of BRAINSTORM! came *almost fully formed. I just looked back at my early drafts and found that the very first thing I ever wrote was:

My mind is foggy, damp and gray

until a brainstorm comes to play.

It starts with just one single drop

then others drizzle down —

Plink, plop.

When I first started writing BRAINSTORM!, I was simply writing a poem that played with the idea of a child struggling to write and then imagining a storm of ideas, but I wasn't really thinking about WHERE this might be taking place. It wasn't until my 3rd draft that I thought of BRAINSTORM! as a picture book and realized I needed a setting. It was at this point that I also thought about hooks and marketability and it donned on me (duh!) that this would be a great story for getting kids excited about writing AT SCHOOL, so that's when I changed the first line/stanza to:

Teacher says it's time to write.

I sigh and clutch my pencil tight.

I look outside — it’s gloomy, gray

and foggy, like my brain today.

I still spent several more drafts tinkering with the first stanza, trying to convey the character, setting, emotion, and mood in as few words as possible. Finally, on the 11th draft, I finalized the FINAL first stanza:

Teacher says it's time to write.

UGH. I clench my pencil tight.

I peek outside —it’s gloomy, gray.


Like my brain today.