Why Do You Keep Doing This?

What’s so great about being a children’s author? At our Anitas meetings we often talk about how hard it is to be a writer for kids. We’ve all met people who blithely report, “I’ve decided to write books for children,” as if it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. We joke they might as well decide to become NHL hockey players or Hollywood movie stars, because honestly breaking into the publishing world of children’s books these days is kind of like winning the lottery.
Since I was leading our Anitas meeting this week I decided instead of focusing our discussion on what’s so hard about being a children’s writer we’d take a look at the rewards.
I combed the web for possible ideas, entering every kind of search term possible. I could only find one article that talked about why it’s great to be a children’s author and it contained some pretty unrealistic ideas. So I decided I’d get personal and think of why I have been working so hard to become a published children’s author. I haven’t had a book or even a story published yet despite my many attempts in the last four years. Why do I persevere? What’s in it for me?

One of my first forays into the publishing world was as the editor of my high school newspaper.
One of my first forays into the publishing world was as the editor of my high school newspaper. That’s me at the head of the table. 

Learning something new
I’ve been a writer for a very long time. I had my first story published in a newspaper when I was ten and I was the editor of my high school newspaper at age seventeen.  Since then my work has appeared in many different magazines, anthologies and curriculums.  But I’ve never published a book for children. Figuring out how to do that has been a huge learning curve for me. I’ve taken classes, gone to conferences, entered contests, attended workshops and joined a writer’s group. Every time I write a new story I realize I still have lots more to learn and I like that!

I got to know talented and friendly Sue Neufeld while doing research for a novel in Herschel Saskatchewan
I got to know creative and hospitable Sue Neufeld while doing research for a story in Herschel Saskatchewan

Meeting interesting people
The other authors in my writing group are not only critics who help me improve my manuscripts; they’ve also become my friends. Each one is such an interesting person. I took a course with children’s author Pegi Dietz Shea. She became a friend and I learned about her fascinating writing journey. I went to Hershel Saskatchewan to research one of the novels I’m working on and met a couple who proved to be not only a valuable resource but also warm and creative people.

My students at Elmdale School in 1982.
My students at Elmdale School in 1982.

Connects me to kids
I was a teacher for thirty- five years and when I retired I quickly discovered I really missed spending time with kids. Writing stories for them is one way to keep my head and heart in the world of children. I have taken on two part time jobs that allow me to connect with children on a regular basis and part of the reason for doing that is because I know if I’m going to write for kids I need to stay involved with children.

Gives me a challenge
It is precisely because it is so hard to become a published children’s author that I really want to achieve that goal. It keeps my brain sharp, my life interesting and my attitude optimistic.  I know the process is more important than reaching my goal of being a published children’s author. But accepting the challenge to keep the process going no matter the difficulties is enriching my retirement years, giving me something to strive for and providing a way to focus on the future.

There are lots of reasons why it’s great to write for children. Each author’s list of reasons is sure to be different. What’s on your list?

Other posts…..

Writing Dividends

Launching Not One Book But Three

What Are People Saying?

MaryLou Driedger is a free lance writer with a long career as a newspaper columnist, curriculum writer and contributor to lifestyle, education and religious publications.

Perseverance

geralt / Pixabay

Getting published is all about perseverance.

Hanging in there when it seems the entire publishing world is against you. Editing, cutting, rewriting your manuscript for the 812th time even though you wonder if it may be easier to quit and become an astronaut at the age of 46 22. Not tearing up manuscripts when your mailbox is overflowing with rejection letters. Okay, now that is too depressing of a visual to joke about.

You must write on, fellow writers, because quitters don’t win Man Booker Prizes and this year’s recipient, Marlon James, is no quitter.

James didn’t sit down and churn out a literary masterpiece one lazy Sunday afternoon. That accomplishment came after years of writing and struggle and after his first book was rejected nearly 80 times before landing a publisher. James even – gasp – capped his pen for a short while in despair, but he returned to writing with a firmer determination.

Libraries and book stores are full of great titles written by authors who fought hard to get published, authors whose work has changed our literary landscape.

All of the following books were rejected numerous times. How many have you read?rejected books kids ya

And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street – Dr. Seuss’ first book – 27 rejections

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – JK Rowling – 12 rejections

A Winkle in Time – Madeline L’Engle – 26 rejections which went on to win the Newberry Medal and become one of the best-selling children’s books of all time.

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing; Blubber; Are you There God? It’s Me Margaret – Judy Blume – 2 solid years of rejections

What if these famous authors gave up after the first rejection? The fifth rejection? The tenth?

What would your childhood have looked like without Green Eggs and Ham? What if JK Rowling’s Hogwarts only existed in her own imagination? Thanks to Madeline L’Engle’s exploration of quantum physics we had our minds blown with the concept of a fifth dimension. And it is a tesseract, people. And you can travel through a tesseract. Ruminate on that for a while. Need I say more? And finally, how many girls found themselves and their own adolescent worries mirrored back to them while reading Judy Blume?

Perseverance brought these books into the hands of readers. Perseverance will help you grow your craft. Perseverance can lead to a successful publishing career. Of course there are no 100 % sure guarantees you will land a publishing deal, but you can be 100% sure you won’t get published if you give up.

Remember, only you can tell the story locked in your imagination.

So what are you waiting for?

Get writing!

For more writing inspiration check out this full article on Marlon James here.

a brief history

 

forever julia cover

Jodi Carmichael (www.jodicarmichael.com)  is an award winning writer of children’s and young adult fiction. Forever Julia, a novel for young adults is her latest release.

Jodi is the multi-award winning author of Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food and Other Life Lessons. Jodi’s second novel is Forever Julia, which was just released this spring, landing on McNally Robinson’ Bestsellers’ list for three consecutive weeks.
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