Something New

Last month I posted 10 pages of the children’s book I wrote and illustrated.

And that was it. I never mentioned it again.

Last month I met with a children’s writer/illustrator who lives here in the city. She has published seven books and has one coming out this month with the publisher I’d love to work with, Chronicle Books. I met with her to interview for the magazine. Coincidently my editors wanted it to be a “how did you get started, what advice would you give to others who are starting out” kind of piece. I felt pretty confident I knew what to ask. šŸ˜‰

The author ended up being incredibly kind. Over two meetings, one with our toddlers and one without, she carefully explained her story, how she quite her job ten years ago to become a writer/illustrator and how it took her five years to get her first book published. She stressed that if I wanted to become a writer/illustrator it would probably be a long road, requiring classes and conferences and finding a critique group and lots and lots of rejection. She said I would have to want it and be willing to work without any guarantee of success. I’d have to be committed to it for the love of it.

It was good to talk to her and ourĀ conversationsĀ made me realize a lot of important things. For one, I had been going about the whole “I want to be a children’s book writer” in the wrong way. Sure it was great to write my book and attempt to illustrate it. I learned a lot about what I can and can’t do well. But just writing that book and hoping it would get published is not a sound strategy. I need to be working on more, outlining ideas, getting other stories on paper, reworking them, just writing, rewriting and writing some more.

Now I definitely plan to shop my book around but I also plan to get rejected a ton of times. In fact, I know longer really harbor any hope that my first book will be published, at least not outside of the few copies I will get made for family and friends. And that is okay. After many weeks I’m finally, honestly, okay with that. And I’m working on next steps.

It took me most of the month to decide if I really wanted to pursue this writing/illustrating thing (and I’m still not entirely sure I have the abilities to pursue the illustrating aspect, and I’ve accepted that as well). In the end I decided I would commit myself to it for a year and see where I was and how I feel. If I am loving the classes and conferences and writing I’ll keep it up. If it’s all becoming too much, or my family or relationship is suffering for it, I’ll put it away, at least for the time being.

As I’m working on all of this, I also want to create a new side project, a new space for my the author side of me to explore herself and hopefully gain a following. When I do finally submit my manuscripts to publishers I want a website I can direct them to, where they can see my work and hopefully, eventually, see that people care about it. This site will be associated with my real name, something I’m simultaneous terrified of and excited about. This site will be a place I can hone my writing skills and, perhaps more importantly, my photography skills. The new space will hopefully launch on Sunday, April first. This will be the header.

I hope you all will join me in my new space. If you’ve enjoyed my photos this past month I promise there will be a lot that space has to offer you, including some fun giveaways of my work and work that inspires me.

And now, on to something new.

6 responses

  1. I remember reading your draft pages and then not finding a moment to comment before you took them down again – my kids adore penguins so my main thought was that they’d probably love your book šŸ™‚

    Glad to hear you’re planning to continue nurturing your creativity as a writer and visual artist in this way.

    My ILs are big fans of Mem Fox, and Australian children’s book author, and had a book she wrote that was sort of a how-to, or advice for hopeful children’s book authors. All I remember from it was that she said it’s rare for people to write and illustrate their own work, that usually the publisher hooks them up with an illustrator. But it sounds like you have a great mentor already.

    Trying it for a year and seeing how you like it sounds like a great idea.

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