I planted seeds in the dirt
in rows at first
but then in wiggly sprinkles
and scattered handfuls like chicken feed.
Somehow the seeds popped up in sprouts
of bright green leaves
but then there was no way to know
what is flower, what is weed?
And now the flowers and the weeds
have grown and tangled
in a beautiful sprawling
and leaning way, together.
Who knew the weeds could flower
with dainty white petals
and soft pink ruffles
and who decides what makes a flower anyway?
and what makes a weed?
How wonderful that roofers
with dirt under their nails
about crushing orange flowers.
Unfortunately, it happens to everyone. Publishing is a very subjective field. One agent/editor could LOVE your manuscript and another agent/editor hit the REJECT button before even getting to the second line. It has taken me a while to realize that it's just part of the business...EVEN after you find an agent...EVEN after you publish your first book...EVEN after you publish your 10th book. After a good wallow, brush off the disappointment and move on to the next submission, contest or manuscript. I have heard this over and over again—this is one of the secrets to writing SUCCESS.
When I started out I thought my work would get snapped up by a publisher and I'd be holding my book within 6 months...it quickly became obvious that this was NOT going to happen. I think this is a common misconception most writers can relate to. It helped enormously when I learned to be realistic with my expectations.
When you can be thankful for critiques pointing out flaws in your beloved story, your work will only get better for it. Celebrating any (even tiny) step forward you make e.g. finding a great new resource, making a new writer contact, feeling proud of a great first line...is the best way to progress. Less disappointment more dancing!!
I know for a fact that if I did not have the support of other writers I would have given up writing a long time ago. Knitting, embroidery, sourdough making...all hobbies I have started and never continued. I am TERRIBLE at sticking at things. The single factor that kept me going was connecting with the writing community who are probably the nicest group of people on earth! The best way to do it is through local SCBWI meet & Greets, conferences and online communities (12x12, storyteller academy, SCBWI blueboards, twitter.)
Having attainable writing goals can be helpful to focus your attention. Make sure you take into account what you can vs what you can't control.
What you can control:
- getting the writing done,
- learning the craft,
- researching agents/editors,
- sending out queries and entering contests.
Out of your control:
- Getting an offer of representation from an agent.
- Getting a publishing contract.
- Going to conferences/writing events out of your budget.
- Winning writing contests.
After you make yourself a Twitter account (see T) then you will want to find other picture book writers to connect with. One of the best ways to do this is by using hastags. Some good ones to search include: #PBChat #SCBWI #amwriting #amquerying #kidlit #12x12PB
Once you are on your feet and connecting with other writers it is easy to spend your time scrolling Twitter, reading blogs and listening to podcasts. This is great!...but don't forget to WRITE. To write great stories you need to experience LIFE. So put down you phone and go hiking a forest trail, drive to the ocean, walk around your block, play dress-up with your kids/grandkids...whatever it takes to get inspired.
Thank you for reading! Please comment below with any tips you have to share with fellow writers...