Yesterday I attended my second Western Washington SCBWI Writing and Illustrating for Children Conference. An inspiring keynote "sprang" from author Bruce Coville, one of the most engaging and animated authors I've ever seen as well as a thrilling demonstration given by funny, grace-under-pressure illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky. This annual conference drew an impressive array of editors, agents, authors & illustrators to bestow the in's and out's of crafting children's books to 400+ aspiring writers and artists. (In my case: those who lack prodigal writing talent and need to try much harder than they currently are.)
If I'm lucky AND good, maybe children's writing will be something more than a hobby. But walk into a book store and go to the picture book section. Behold the 100's nay, 1000's of books that already exist in the genre. The selection is dizzying. So why in my right mind would I pour my heart and soul into such steep competition and slim revenue potential? The only answer that comes to mind is love. Love of children and the magic picture books bring into our lives. Stories that move, shape and deepen our connection to the world and each other. Love is the only logical answer to an illogical proposition. I try to keep this in mind as I slalom through inspired creative curves, stretches of bumpy self-defeat and moments of reality-induced free-fall.
Spanning all of those feelings in one single moment yesterday, I got to talk to an editor for 10 minutes about one of my manuscripts. She read it and had comments. Lots of comments. Comments that require some serious revision. Ms. Editor was brutally honest and I respect that. Because every bit of her feedback made sense but I just wish I'd figured it out first. She said I could send her the revised version--and thus begins my mission.
The most important thing I've learned is that writers write. It's so simple yet so intimidating. Could I have tried harder these past few years? Yes. Have I given it my full commitment and attention? No. Will I do better? Absolutely. To me, being a writer is a commitment and responsibility because like Deborah Noyes Wayshak of Candlewick Press said, "Nothing is lost on writers." Being a writer is peeling away assumptions and looking for universal truths. When you open yourself up this way, you see the world just like a child does and in that there is magic. Here is to finding the truths...