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.
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