I hope you all are as moved by this post from today’s Tuesday 12 x 12 author Carol Coven Grannick as I was. Carol’s words struck such a chord in me. It is SO easy as writers to get mired in self-doubt and anguish and forget why we started writing in the first place. The tagline of her blog — Focusing More on the Writing and Less on the Publication — is going to be my new mantra. It’s not that I don’t want to publish many more books, it’s just that focusing too much on the publication side of things can suck the joy out of the act of writing. I am grateful that Carol found 12 x 12 this year, and I for one will be seeking out her gentle counsel when I need more writing resilience. Please welcome Carol!
THE FREEDOM OF LETTING GO
The past year has been a bountiful, meaningful one in my long journey as a committed, hardworking children’s writer – not because I got a book contract, but because I didn’t.
During the last decade, I’d heard supportive comments for years as short fiction appeared in children’s magazines, several unpublished picture books won several awards and got me an agent, with whom I parted ways after two acquisitions committees but no contract led him to stop sending out my work.
Although I wrote for love, life and urgency, and because I had stories to tell, I wanted to join colleagues who announced their book contracts month after month. I followed all the recommendations and collected plenty of impersonal and personal rejections. I was persistent and resilient. I believed that if I continued along this path, I’d get published.
And then about a year and a half ago I found I was spending too much time recovering from submissions into what many writers were calling the Black Hole of publishing: “If you don’t hear from us, assume we’re not interested.” If I don’t hear from you by when? I wondered. Some said, but many didn’t. Six weeks? Two months? Ten years?
I had to change something. So I challenged my basic assumption about being a children’s author with these words: There is a distinct possibility that I will never get a traditional book contract.
I shocked myself, let the words sink in, cried, sobbed.
Then I stopped. And when I did, I asked myself The Question: Now what?
The answer was easy. Now I am a writer. Now I write.
I had to put the longing for publication on a back burner. It was controlling too much of my writing and my life. I didn’t give up hope, just preoccupation.
Relief billowed in, filled me with a sense of freedom. Ideas for new work, classes I wanted to take, manuscripts I’d revise without losing the heart of the story because it might not be marketable, all seemed possible. “Shoulds” disappeared and joy returned.
I had always been, and would always be, a writer.
Then the oddest and best things happened in a year that unfolded, full of surprises. A new blog to keep me honest, an illustration class I never thought I’d take, query letters more true to my natural voice that got responses and requests for more work, and amazing workshops with authors whose work I loved and who were brilliant teachers as well.
My writing and my well-being blossomed.
And just when I felt ready to begin to submit again, I discovered 12 x 12. Where had it been last year? Well, right here. But I wasn’t. Really, just when I was ready, I found Julie’s site. Was it magic? No. It was luck: readiness meeting opportunity – such a crucial component of our journeys.
I hesitated not one moment. I scraped together the funds to become a GOLD level member, and although I’m still more of a lurker than a poster, I’m loving the forum, loving the opportunities, loving the resources. This post is an easier way of entry for me, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.
But mostly I’m loving the existence of all of us in community together, picture book writers who don’t believe this precious genre is on the way out.
Carol Coven Grannick writes picture books, middle grade and young adult fiction, and personal essays. Her regular column, The Irrepressible Writer, appears in the SCBWI-Illinois PRAIRE WIND (http://illinois-scbwi.org) and she blogs about her creative process at http://TodayIAmAWriter.blogspot.com. As a writer/clinical social worker, she has an archive of articles about how to create and maintain resilience for the writing life at: http://TheIrrepressibleWriter.com and counsels/coaches individuals and groups on caring for the inner journey of the writing life.
Categories: 12 x 12, Agents, Authors, Books, Children's Books, Creativity, Goals, Guest Blogging, Picture Books, Publishing, Queries, SCBWI, Writing · Tags: 12 x 12, Agents, Author, Authors, Carol Coven Grannick, Creativity, Goals, Guest Blog, Julie Hedlund, Picture Books, Publication, Queries, SCBWI, Tuesday 12 x 12, Works in Progress, Writing