carolphotoI 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 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the last decade, I’d heard supportive comments for years as short fiction appeared in children’s magazines, several unpublished picture books won several awards and got me an agent, with whom I parted ways after two acquisitions committees but no contract led him to stop sending out my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 ( and she blogs about her creative process at As a writer/clinical social worker, she has an archive of articles about how to create and maintain resilience for the writing life at: 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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



  1. Thank you, Carol, for sharing your story. I think it gives us all courage to go on, no matter the “result.” If you’re telling stories because that’s what you love to do, then do it!

  2. Carol You’ve said it all. Just write it down, I feel writing is as important as the air that I breathe. Take suggestions but be true to yourself.

  3. Wonderful post, Carol! I always enjoy this fellow Illinoisan’s gentle permission to remember what gets us excited about writing in the first place — and to keep at it! If not for publication, then because it’s simply who we are. Thanks Carol! This literally put a smile on my face and caused me to take a much-needed deep breath ~

  4. Terrific post, Carol. I too found the 12 x 12 community AND a fine critique group at just the right time. :0)

  5. So glad we met at Highlights, Carol! Your calm outlook is a refreshing reminder.

  6. Carol,
    what deep restful wisdom! Your post was a gentle massage for the anxious writer’s heart.
    Thanks for sharing your journey to the place we all really love to go, that place we can unfold and let the words flow without reserve.

  7. What a wonderful post, Carol! Thank you for both sharing your experience, and encouraging the rest of us to focus on why we love doing this!

  8. Great post, Carol! Thanks so much for sharing!

  9. thank you for sharing, Carol. a good reminder that we write… and what it takes. You encourage & inspire.

  10. Excellent post, Carol! Thank you for your honesty. It’s so important to remember why we’re writing in the first place: for the love of it, not the end result. I am grateful for the reminder!

  11. It better not be on the way out lol. What a moving post and you cover things I’ve been thinking about. If we are writing and sharing our writing and learning and growing then that is great. You are so right about where our priorities ought to lie.

  12. Thank you for your timely and honest post, Carol! Your words, “There is a distinct possibility that I will never get a traditional book contract.” resonated with me on many levels. I have thought and said those very words aloud in recent months (days!). But like you, I am a writer. I will write regardless of the outcome. That is my focus. Thanks again for sharing your journey. =)

  13. Melanie Ellsworth

    Thanks for the courage to share these thoughts with us, Carol. I learned something important about my own thought process around publishing. If I kick the publishing goal out of the forefront of my brain, as you managed to, I can imagine how the ideas might flow.

  14. Every last one of us can relate to your candid, thoughtful post, Carol. Thank you!

    Long-live picture books!

  15. Carol has my vote! What for? Well, I haven’t come up with that yet, but WOW this post makes me feel good enough to follow her wherever she may go! I’ll be back to read it again, and again! Thanks Carol, so glad you are part of 12×12! (BTW, Damon Dean expressed it superbly!)

  16. I can so relate to your post, Carol, and find myself in a similar spot. Thank you for your perspective!

  17. This was beautiful Carol. At our inner depths, we love writing for writing’s sake. We love to read and share our thoughts about incredible, beautiful books. When we are part of a like-minded community, we can learn that this is – truly – enough.

  18. Thank you Carol. Your post is a much needed encouragement. So, back to happily writing from my heart . . .

  19. Thank you all for taking the time to reply and to share the “kinship”…It means a lot to me!

  20. I really enjoyed reading your post and could certainly identify with that longing to be published phase that aspiring/pre-published writers go through – and once you are through you can breath again and write freely!

  21. Beautiful post, Carol, very inspiring to us all. Thanks so much for the share.

  22. Penny Klostermann

    Thanks for a post that is very relatable and so well-written that I could feel your disappointment turn to the relief of freedom!

  23. Thanks, Melanie. I love that current positive neuroscience and positive psychology research give us the proof of our brains’ capacities, and the tools to enjoy them.

  24. Ah, you have described something that plagues most of us so much. Thank you for your honesty and touching story of triumph over self-doubts! It’s hard to be a writer and face what seems like endless rejections, but like many others have wrote, a true writer will write no matter if there is any chance of being published. I wish you the best in your writing journey and may you soon get a contract from a publisher!

    • Thanks, Teresa. What continues to amaze me – and yet neuroscience and positive psychology keep proving it to be true – is the freedom from the worry, wondering, etc. (negative stuff) that allowed me to write more, better, deeper. It does feel great.

  25. This is so supportive and inspiring!

  26. Thank you, Carol, for this post. Yes, let’s not forget why we started this journey in the first place. I bet good things will happen for you now that you are writing for the love of it first.

    • Thank you, Sylvia. In a way, it seems that the journey starts before we even know it, doesn’t it? I remember writing as a child…I wrote because…it seemed like the most natural thing to do. I don’t think I realized I was on a “journey” ’til much later on…

  27. Sharalyn Edgeberg

    Thanks for sharing with such honesty. Yes, that lurking desire to be published. I appreciate your encouragement on keeping it in perspective. And yes, my first year as a Gold member of 12 x 12 and looking forward to many more.

  28. Thank you, Carol, for this heartfelt sharing or your journey. As the poet William Stafford once said, “The product is dispensable, but the process is precious.” Your commitment to the process is gold indeed. All the best to you.

  29. Thanks Carol for your soothing and inspirational thoughts. We should write because we love to. Worrying about being published, etc. puts unnecessary pressure on us and our well being. I feel a freedom already. You have inspired me to put priority on my creativity.

  30. Thank you Carol. I let out the biggest sigh when I read your post. I remember feeling happier 3 years ago when I first started witing and that’s all I did. Then through associations with writing groups and conferences I learned how important it was to build my platform through social media etc. I love my website, but have little time to write because I’m reading, researching and reviewing — being the journalist again. I made the decision to cut back this summer and only focus on writing,with very little blogging. I want to regain my balance. Thank you again for such an inspirational post.

  31. The most inspirational post so far Carol. Thank you for sharing your story. We often lose site of our passion to just write when we focus on the “publication” or business of writing. Your post is an eye-opener for me. Lately, My creativity seems to be crippled and now I know why.

  32. Very heart warming post, Carol. Thank you for reminding us to keep the love and beauty alive.

  33. Such… Such… Oh boy. I’m at a loss of words (and that doesn’t happen often for a writer)!

  34. Carol, Thank you for your beautiful articulate post…I too just discovered 12×12 and I’m thrilled to be writing more than I ever have before! I’m also an MSW–I have a feeling you’ll have a contract before you know it.

  35. Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m heading into the submission path and the rejections in the inbox can be interesting. I feel like submission takes a lot way from writing, but it’s a step I’m focusing on this year.

  36. Hi Carol, I read your post and nod my head… u-huh, u-huh, u-huh. I too have discovered the joys of ‘doing for my own pleasure and building on my skills’. And 12×12 is the best thing I have ever done for myself.
    Funny thing though, not long after I gave up trying to please [and impress] others; my artwork and my writing, mostly my artwork, became [lack of a better word] popular.
    In regards to the forum; it is great you are a lurker, but I would love for you to find your way to a couple of my posts and make suggestions [I am learning so much from comments].
    Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

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