This is going to be a slightly different kind of Gratitude Sunday post. In fact, I’m going to share something that is going to sound decidedly UN-grateful (at first).
Yesterday I woke up and had a bit of a panic attack. If you’ve been following the blog, you know that I am in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign for my next picture book. Self-promotion, especially the kind that involves emailing people to ask them for money (even while offering rewards in exchange), is my least favorite part of this job. I do it because I have to. And I try to reciprocate as often as I can when my writing friends are doing the same. Still. Promotion is not within my direct comfort zone, so it is exhausting and
completely somewhat excruciating.
In addition, I’ve got to gear up my marketing efforts for A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS and the two apps for the holidays. I’m planning a launch party, trying to squeeze in a couple more school visits, calling local bookstores and libraries to inquire about events. Again, not at the top of my list of favorite activities.
That’s when it hit me. I had two thoughts in rapid succession:
- The business of writing for children is SO. HARD.
- It’s NEVER going to get easier. Not EVER. Every book, every project will require this level of effort and anxiety.
So I asked myself, “WHY am I doing this?” I’m an intelligent, educated, still-fairly-young *cough* woman with many transferable skills. I could make more money (a LOT more) with far less work. So I had a visceral moment of “doubt and shame.”
The pat answer is, of course, because I love writing for children. Because it’s my passion. But honestly, those answers oversimplify.
I got the true answer a little later in the day when I opened an email from one of my writing friends, Alison Stevens. She purchased a print copy of TROOP at the Rocky Mountain SCBWI conference to donate to her kids’ school library. This is what she wrote:
“The librarian was thrilled. Seriously, she looked it over, loved the plural nouns, fawned over the alliteration (which 3rd grade is learning right now), and hugged it.”
Wait just a darn minute! You mean there is another person in the world who loved my book enough to hug it???
Not to sound like Oprah, but that’s when I remembered that the reason I write for children is because nothing else I’ve ever done has made me feel like my life is in alignment with my purpose. Writing for children does.
To top that off, now that 300+ children in the community have seen me in a school visit, everywhere I go these days I seem to have a child waving, smiling, telling me they liked my books. In fact, at my son’s basketball practice the other day, there were two boys on the sidelines whispering with each other and looking over at me. Finally, after what seemed like quite a long debate, they approached me. Here’s how the conversation went:
BOY #1: ASK her!
BOY #2: After your presentation, one of the other kids told me that you know every animal group name.
ME: I don’t know if I know every single one, but I know a lot of them.
BOY #2: Do you know what a group of aardvarks is called?
Clearly these hooligans were trying to trip my up by picking one of the more obscure animals.
ME: Indeed I do. A group of aardvarks is called an “armory.”
BOY #1: WOW!
BOY #2: That is SO COOL!
Now, as a little girl I never daydreamed about becoming an expert on collective nouns for animal groups. But I DID dream about being able to make a difference in the world. Every time somebody loves what I write, I’ve reached them in a way that would not otherwise have been possible. So THAT is also why I do what I do.
The reason this whole post at first seemed ungrateful to me is because, as I wrote it, my Kickstarter campaign was almost 80% funded! So many people have pledged their support for a book that is near and dear to my heart. How lucky am I?
So I was able to come full circle — from fear, doubt, and anxiety all the way back to extreme gratitude.
What are you grateful for this week?Categories: A Shiver of Sharks, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Apps, Children's Books, Crowdfunding, Gratitude Sunday, Picture Books, Publishing, SCBWI, Writing · Tags: A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Author, Children's Books, Crowdfunding, Gratitude, Gratitude Sunday, Julie Hedlund, Kickstarter, My Love for You is the Sun, Picture Books, Publishing, SCBWI, Storybook Apps, Writing