I’m about to get on a plane to Nevada, and attend the SCBWI Nevada writing weekend at Fallen Leaf Retreat. So my mind has been very much focussed on my writing journey, and how I got to this exciting place in it.
When I was seven years-old, I was asked to recite my poem at school assembly, and that was the day I decided on my future career.
It took a while to get a book published, but no matter where my life has strayed, I have always been and will always be a writer at heart.
Of course a bestseller would be nice – but most of all I write because it’s an intrinsic part of who I am.
I was discussing this with my teen boys the other day and we were talking about goals, and how fulfilling them is what the journey is all about. My fifteen year-old wants to be a stand up comedian. My seventeen year-old is a scientist and great people person, and would like to combine these talents.
We are all different, but we realised we have something important in common – we ALL care about the world we live in, and in our own way, we want to make a difference.
This is what keeps me writing – helps me rise above rejection, battle through writer’s block and scrape the money together to do things like the mentorship I’m embarking on (although I was extremely lucky to receive a financial contribution from CAL to enable me to take up this opportunity.)
I write to make a difference in people’s lives. I write for the girl who came up to me at a school visit and said that Letters to Leonardo was the best book she’d ever read.
I write for the kids who read Hope for Hanna, and were inspired by it to raise money for a village in Uganda.
I write for kids who need a voice, for kids whose life is hard, and need reassurance that they are not alone, and for kids whose life is simple and good, but who will develop empathy from reading about kids who aren’t so lucky.
My writing journey has had many ups and downs, but they have all contributed to who I am today as a writer – and I have learnt so much along the way – not just about writing – but about making the most of the journey.
HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF THE WRITING JOURNEY
- Celebrate every success, no matter how small it seems
- NEVER compare yourself to any other writer or to their successes.
- Try not to dwell on the rejections, the hard times. Allow yourself to be disappointed, upset etc but move on.
- Always have something to look forward to – a pot at the end of the rainbow. It doesn’t have to be anything big – it could be attending a writing event at your local library, networking with another writer, sending out a new submission – anything to help you feel you are moving forward.
- Network with other writers – sharing a problem/experience can help diminish the pain of rejection, and it’s so much fun to be able to share good news with people who get how significant it is.
- Be patient – even if you’ve written a fabulous book, it could still take a while to get published.
- Stay true to YOUR vision for your story – listen to advice but only take on what works for you.
- Involve your family and friends in the journey – kids can be great critiquers, partners can be great supporters and friends can help you stay focussed (particularly writerly ones).
- Take risks – be prepared to step outside your comfort zone. A few years ago I wouldn’t have dreamed of hopping on a plane by myself and going to the US.
- Enjoy the ride.
MY FIRST PICTURE BOOK – AGED 11
Below are some images from the first book I ever wrote and illustrated. I think I was about 11.
I have to confess that some of the pictures were copied from a beautifully illustrated version of The Ugly Duckling . The storyline was definitely original though – it was about a duck who got her neck stretched and became a swan. (I wasn’t very well versed in biology in grade five:)
If you have tips to share on how to make the most of the writing journey, please feel free to include them in the comments section of this post.
The Journey Continues
I arrive in Nevada on Thursday 24th October and while I’m there I’m going to try and blog daily about the experience and share what I learn.