How quickly my own words come back to haunt me. I road-tested a children's story at my non-SCBWI writing group last night and was quickly put to rights about its commercial viability. "I can't imagine any child would find that interesting" was the opening salvo and others quickly piled in to tell me how far I had sailed past the market. I did get one lone voice of support, but that couldn't save me from crashing in flames.
Actually, though, I think they were right, and perhaps I'd let myself in for it by voicing my own doubts about the story's market before I started reading. Looking at it in the light of the new day, I can see where I might be able to salvage things and bring it a little more "on message".
All of this did make me think how much more structure is imposed upon us as children's writers. With adult fiction, nobody would claim to know all of the possible reader profiles and markets, but we all have a much clearer idea of what constitutes a children's story. Knowing how far we can innovate within that framework and what rules we can break is both a challenge and our chance to step away from the herd.