Things here have been very eventful, and I have a lot to share. First things first. I have another fun Friday post in the works, and I will likely get it out by next week. Secondly, I went to my very first writer’s conference and I am more determined than ever to continue on this path. Thirdly, I was asked to attend a local farmer’s market as entertainment for the kiddos and it was the BEST.DAY.EVER!!! I wasn’t quite sure how to format this post, so in order to make it useful for those who are just starting their writing journey, I am going to make a numbered list of facts/realizations I’ve had about myself and my writing the past few weeks.
- If you are serious about your writing, join a critique group/get a critique partner/enlist beta readers. I did none of these. I kept my writing hidden from everyone except the editor I hired, and my husband. This resulted in me bringing three polished and professional but not very good manuscripts to my very first writer’s conference. Had I asked for opinions I would have known that one manuscript wasn’t really a story at all, and the other was a good concept, but has a rhyming scheme that needs work… a lot of work.
- Rhyming books are a hard sell. This was reiterated by several literary agents and editors. So if you are going to do it, do it right. I would like to share specifics on this one, but a lot of what I learned was from a session that was given by Laura Sassi. I don’t want to put her hard work out there for free. However, if you google “rhyming mistakes to avoid” you’ll find a plethora of information. A blog post about rhyme written by Laura Sassi, can be found here, and another article that gave good advise can be found here.
- Keep going. I basically paid money to edit and then put out into the world the very first drafts of the very first few stories that I wrote, and I expected/hoped/REALLY wanted to get signed by an agent. I left the conference a bit discouraged and feeling like a fraud, but I was determined. I went home and contacted a critique group. I found a critique partner at the conference, and I created a group of beta readers. I drafted a prose version of one of my manuscripts. I came up with another idea and started drafting it. I am going to keep going. I am going to keep polishing and writing because I am compelled to.
- Do things that remind yourself of your “why”. I started writing for children because I had them, and I wanted to create a fun little story for them. I continued because I enjoyed the process and having the creative outlet. Something unexpected that occurred was that I found that I really enjoyed the fact that kids loved my book and were enthusiastic about having their parents read to them. As I stated before, I went to a farmer’s market with my book. I did 5 separate little readings for kids and I feel like something ignited in my soul. I LOVED seeing their little faces when I read ‘Sam Likes Jam’ to them. One little kid gave me a thumbs-up, and it made my day. I really needed that encouragement, and it came at the right time.
- Face your fears. Put yourself out there. Network. Ask questions. Research. I know that’s like 5 things under one bullet, trust me, they are all related. Going to this conference was a big deal for me. I’m a bit shy and can be socially awkward. I wasn’t very confident in my status as an author and I really really just love being at my home. I am so grateful and glad that I went. At one point, the amazing keynote speaker, Tami Charles, sent a beach ball bouncing around the room. If it landed on you when the music stopped, you would get the microphone and have to answer a question in front of everyone. Can you take a wild guess on who it landed on? I smacked the ball into the aisle and said “NO!” then after some encouragement, I said my name, introduced myself as a children’s author to a room full of successful traditionally published authors, agents, and editors. She asked who my dream agent was, and I declined to answer, but I did say that he or she was in the room. It was scary. It was exhilarating. It boosted my confidence. Here is the awful picture proof:
So in the end, I went into the conference with 3 manuscripts ready to show to agents and one published book. I left with zero finished manuscripts, a reality check, a bruised ego, a published book, new friends, a wealth of knowledge, a plan, and tons of determination. I would call the weekend an overall success.
Basically, I’m back at square one (maybe square two?) and I’m ok with it. With each set back or failure, I come back stronger and with more knowledge. As always, I am happy to share it with you.