Featured Author Baptiste Paul March 2019

The “Nos are Many, Rejections Plenty

It takes a lot to write a book

Baptiste PaulAs a picture book author, you hope that the book you create is well received by kids and adults alike. The years of research and writing boils down to a single moment—release day. Are people going to be as excited as I am about this book? Will this book deliver the message I want to share with the world? For me, the biggest award is knowing first hand that my book is helping to create a positive change in the world.

Two years ago, my wife, Miranda and I traveled to Cameroon to complete research on our co-authored book I Am Farmer. Prior to our departure, the US State Department advised us to reconsider traveling to Cameroon, noting it wasn’t safe because of a heated political situation. Fighting had broken out in many parts of the country; many had died. At that point, we were so heavily invested in our research that the thought of canceling never crossed our minds. Although we knew the risk, we chose to go. We knew it was going to be difficult, and we accepted the challenge that lay ahead.

This was a story that needed to be told.

Our book is the story of “Farmer” Tantoh Nforba, who, in my opinion, is one of the biggest environmental activists in Cameroon. Tantoh’s work includes, among other things, building water catchments, digging wells, and planting gardens. From village to village, kids danced with him; adults shouted his name wherever we went; mayors and chiefs welcomed him into their homes. An elder from one village shared that once the new water catchment was installed, not a single person had gotten sick or died from drinking contaminated water. I’m in awe of Tantoh’s story and his hard work on behalf of the people of Cameroon.

“Time short, story long,” is one of Tantoh’s many proverbs. His work keeps inspiring people. In less a month since I Am Farmer hit bookshelves nationwide, there has been a call to action. Schools, churches, and community organizations are on the front lines advocating for better living conditions in Cameroon. Elementary students in Auburn, NY, have raised enough money for the construction of a new well for the eco-lodge that Tantoh has built. Also, my church, Prince of Peace in Green Bay, is on the path to raising $5,000 for another well project in Cameroon.

Well project at Tantoh’s eco-lodge funded by Auburn Elementary

All my life I have been surrounded by activists just like Tantoh. People who want to make this world a better place. People who want to improve the lives of others through selfless acts. I did not have to look far. One of my everyday favorites is my mother. She couldn’t read or write, yet she was able to get electricity to our neighborhood in the village. For more than five years, she walked endless miles to government offices. When the “nos” from political leaders and heat exhaustion slowed her down, she persisted. She never gave up, even though it might have been the easiest thing to do.

I Am Farmer by Baptiste Paul and Miranda PaulInspired by my mother, I too persist. At one of my past jobs, I was witness to an unfair system and how employers don’t always compensate their employees fairly. In this case, I too walked for change: I took matters into my own hands and organized a strike. My demands were simple. No work if we didn’t get paid a fair wage. Luckily, I did not get fired. Instead, two amazing things happened that week. My boss saw what one man was capable of and challenged me to go out and do something incredible in this world. His words to me: “it’s amazing how you pulled this off.” And, when we received our checks that Friday, everyone got a 100% raise.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Never give up!” The changes we wish to see in the world—clean drinking water for the people of Cameroon, electricity for a village, fair wages for workers–do not come easily. At least, it hasn’t for me, for Tantoh, for my mom. Sometimes it can feel like the world is against us. Sometimes we can’t catch a lucky break. The nos might be many, the rejections might be plenty, but each step in the process is important. The key is to keep walking. Success is much sweeter when we’ve learned from our failures.

This is why I write. To inspire. To learn. To bring the world the stories of the people who, one step, one well, one penny at a time, make change a reality.

 

The Field by Baptiste PaulBaptiste Paul is a Caribbean-born author of three books for children. His debut picture book, THE FIELD, received starred reviews from Kirkus, The Horn Book, and Booklist. According to Kirkus, his co-authored book ADVENTURES TO SCHOOL, “will pique readers’ curiosity.” His picture book biography, I AM FARMER, chronicles the work of Cameroonian environmentalist Tantoh Nforba. Born and raised on the island of Saint Lucia, Baptiste is a native Creole/Patois speaker who enjoys reading his books and sharing about his experiences with anyone who will listen. Learn more about Baptiste at baptistepaul.net.

One lucky 12 x 12 member will win a copy of I AM FARMER during the March check-in. Will it be you? Get your drafts written and revised in March for your best chance of winning! 

This Post Has 86 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for sharing part of your personal journey with us. It’s truly inspiring. I wish you much continued success with many more books that help create positive change in the world.

  2. Thanks so much for this thoughtful post, Baptiste! I’ve been worrying so much about the world lately, and I really appreciate the positive stories.

    All twelve copies of I AM FARMER are currently checked out of my local library system, by the way. I’ll give it a review when I can get my hands on a copy…

  3. Thank you for showing us how a picture book can make a difference! I will return to read this post again when I need a bit of inspiration on my rejection-paved road.

  4. Baptiste,

    Thank you so much for inspiring us to go the extra mile and never give up. Thank you for the post.

  5. Such an incredible journey. I have had the pleasure of reading I am Farmer. It is a wonderful call to action and a beautiful book.

  6. What an inspiring story!
    Thank you for your dedication to changing the world with your talents and sharing that journey with us. I can’t wait to see how you continue to change the world with your words. I hope there will soon be a book about your mother. :0)

  7. Thank you for sharing your story and encouragement to keep pressing forwards, even when it’s difficult and easier to just give up.

    Will take your words to heart. 🙂

  8. It’s easier to think that one person can’t make a difference than to be brave and try to do so. Thank you for creating a book–a true story–that shows the good that a single individual can accomplish.

  9. Congrats on the book, and awesome at all the inspiring work you, your church, the kids, and Tantoh are doing!

  10. Thank you for sharing your inspiring stories of actions for change. Congrats on writing your latest book.

  11. You know, being a writer–especially a beginning writer–I tend to get wrapped up in my personal journey. I suppose we all do to one degree or another, regardless of our backgrounds or choice of hobby. In the last few months I’ve heard time and again about those two magical “p’s” of being an author: patience and perseverance. And it’s always been applied to the craft and work of writing: be objective with those revisions, don’t let the agent rejections keep you down, etc.

    Which is my long-winded way of saying that a post like this one from Baptiste is so, so appreciated. Here I am–and I assume a good deal of my comrades are as well–aching and squirming with thoughts of one day being published, having my name on the cover of a book, visiting a classroom full of eager readers. Meanwhile, villagers are praying that they’ll be able to quench their thirst without killing themselves. Families are boiling through summers without air conditioning. And minimum wage is a concept completely foreign to more people than we’d like to admit.

    Meanwhile, I enjoy the fulfillment of all these basic needs and more, plus a decent share of daily luxuries. And the question that keeps me up at night? Wondering when I’m going to get a good handle on this writing thing.

    Yeah. Sounds about right.

    But, deep down, I know that this is not an uncommon feeling for someone to have, and I’m sure it will happen for me again. And that it’s not necessarily a bad thing that it will. Far from it. Because I know that every person has their own road riddled with their own challenges, and that those journeys shouldn’t be compared to one another to determine which is worthier, which is the cause that really deserves to be fought for. I think art always and inevitably takes the losing role in these arguments: “How can I create XYZ when there are people who need actual help?”

    If this sounds like I’m thinking out loud, it’s because I am. I was provoked by this post, but in the best possible way. It checked my privilege, reminded me to be grateful for the fact that I can exist in a position where mastering my craft is one of my main personal obstacles. And with any luck the art I eventually create will make a difference of a kind, if only–as I hope the meandering thoughts of this post will–let somebody out there know that they are not as alone as they thought.

    Thanks, Baptiste.

  12. What an inspiring post, Baptiste! Thank you for your encouraging words and congratulations on all your success. Your hard work and “keep trying” attitude has certainly paid off, as readers all over the world benefit from your stories.

  13. This story inspired me to get to work with polishing my manuscripts and take this year to prepare something and submit it. And then to start sticking my neck out and sending something to an agent or an editor. And to read and donate books with an organized group to schools that are in need.

  14. Baptiste, this made me cry. You have expressed both the difficulty of the work we do but also the reason for it. Thank you – I’m so glad you are in the world.

  15. Great post, Baptiste! Thank you for giving us a peek at your publishing journey and for sharing your insights on how important it is to have patience and to persevere in our writing!!

  16. I loved hearing more about your trip to Cameroon and further efforts to help with
    the situation there. I Am Farmer was inspiring and I’m glad it is helping to make a
    difference!

  17. Your drive to make the world a better place is fantastic. You put so much into your work and it’s really paying off. I Am Farmer is an inspiration for everyone of us. Thank you for sharing your story.

  18. Your post made me think how each of us has the chance to make a difference big or small each day. Whether it’s a smile and hello to that lonely person or something bigger like saving people in your community. thanks!

  19. Wonderful post, Baptiste. Your passion to make change comes across loud and clear. Just like tossing a pebble into a pond and seeing all the ripples it makes, our stories make ripples, too. We never truly know the impact (or how many ripples they will make)!

  20. Thank you so much for sharing this inspiring story, Baptiste! Books can make such a difference in people’s lives, simply by planting the seed of awareness.

  21. Thank you Baptist’s for your insights, and for reminding me that saying “That’s just the way it is” is easy. Being part of the change is something we can all do with our writing!

  22. Thank you so much for sharing your inspiring story and encouragement. We love The Field and are looking forward to I Am Farmer!

  23. Congratulations on getting your work published. Your trials have been inspiring. I think there are many interesting people who need to have their story told. May you have continued success.

  24. So excited to read this story. I think using your platform as a children’s author is an amazing way to equip and encourage children to make a difference across the world and in their own neighborhood. Thanks for the encouragement as many of us want to make that difference too with our writing. May we all see and witness the amazing stories of change that need to be told. And may the children who read this story be inspired to do something.

  25. Thank you for this inspiring and encouraging post, Baptiste. Wishing you (and Miranda) much continued success!!

  26. Baptiste, thank you for sharing SEVERAL stories of action and inspiration- all packed into such a focused and concise post. Your passion is so evident, and I get the sense that having a short conversation with you is enough to make ANYONE stand up straight and identify some way that they can bring about a needed change.

  27. Thank you Baptiste for the very important work you are doing! Your stories are filled with love, conviction and hope. Thank you for the inspiring post and reminding us of how powerful the written word is!

  28. Thank you for giving us some of your background and the background for I AM FARMER. You and Tantoh are both inspiring!

  29. Your inspiring feature author article reminds me that we all have the ability to spark positive change. A book can often become the product of who we are and what is in our heart. Thanks for revealing your heart. Congratulations on your book!

  30. Wow Baptiste, what an inspiring journey! I’m so glad you were able to bring the book I AM FARMER out in the world and that many more people are being inspired by this book to do good deeds in the world. Thank you for writing this wonderful post!

  31. These are all wonderful causes that you have gone to bat for. Some who live in comfort often take for granted some of the basic elements of life like clean drinking water. That’s a cause close to my heart as well. Thank you for your post and for your contributions to the world of children’s books.

  32. This post, and your stories, are so inspiring! Thanks for working, and writing, to change the world for the better!

  33. Thank you for sharing your journey, Baptiste. It is so inspiring. And thank you for writing these important stories for children.

  34. Love the positivity of your post Baptiste! Thank you for sharing your journey with inspiration and hope.

  35. This post left me feeling positivity for efforts, action, and persistence of the human spirit. Here-here! to how your book has inspired communities to help the people of Cameroon.

  36. Thanks for sharing your inspiring journey with us. You continue to inspire us all with your determination to make a positive difference with your wonderful books.

  37. The persistence, love, and inspiration come through so clearly. Thank you so much for sharing! As long as there are stories like these by Baptiste Paul, the world is sure to, however slowly, evolve into a better place.

  38. Why you write is a testament to your character. I look forward to reading your latest book, and all the books to come.

  39. “This is why I write. To inspire. To learn. To bring the world the stories of people who, one step, one well, one penny at a time, make change a reality,” Your purpose for writing resonates within my heart. Thank you for the brave steps you and your wife took to research for your meaningful book, I AM A FARMER. Thank you too, Baptiste, for the beautiful tribute to your mother (the makings of another book) and for sharing other events from your personal testimony. I am truly inspired!

  40. I love your humanitarian mind-set! We can all do something to help people who are less fortunate – thank you for reminding us of that and for sharing your insights with us.

  41. Thank you for sharing these stories of perseverance and change with us. I Am Farmer is a remarkable book, and because of it, Tantoh is inspiring change far beyond the borders of Cameroon. Thank you for your example and thank you for showing us what a difference one person can make.

  42. There are many people in this world making a difference, but their stories are never told. The people behind the stories are not doing for themselves to be known, but to improve other’s lives. They put others first. Your writing is brining their quiet work to the forefront when so many in the world are doing it for personal recognition. I applaud you for your journey in writing and hope someday your words will make a difference in lives yet to be matured.

  43. So inspiring, Baptiste. Thank you for your story and personal insights. Reminds us all to persist-not only in our writing life-but in reaching out to help others and make a difference.

  44. Thank you, Baptiste, for the work that you create for all readers young and old. And reminding us that children’s books can reflect different realities than our own.

  45. Baptiste,
    I’m honored to call you my friend. I’m happy that Tantoh was able to finally get his visa and hope that your trip to schools and bookstores creates more positive feelings that inspire children and readers to do what they can to change the world. I look forward to doing something similar— opening hearts with my sure to be published manuscripts!

  46. Baptiste,
    I’m honored to call you my friend. I’m happy that Tantoh was able to finally get his visa and hope that your trip to schools and bookstores creates more positive feelings that inspire children and readers to do what they can to change the world.

  47. This post filled my heart with hope for a world that seems to be faltering badly. You have given me hope and determination to do more than worry and whine. Thank you.

  48. Thank you for bringing focus to ‘the world the stories of the people who, one step, one well, one penny at a time, make change a reality’. Your work is inspiring, Baptiste!

  49. What a wonderful story! I hope that it is read and shared in all parts of the world!
    Thank you for sharing your journey.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *