Today I am pleased to welcome Darshana Khiani to the Tuesday 12 x 12 series. Darshana is a very active member of the 12 x 12 community and is always one of the first to share knowledge or provide encouragement. She does fabulous reviews of children’s books, from picture books to middle grade, on her blog Flowering Minds, making it a great resource for writers, parents, teachers and librarians. Thanks to Darshana for being here today.
I often find myself asking this question: “Am I a Writer or am I just a wannabe?” After all, I have two degrees in Computer Engineering and I help solve issues on multi-million dollar customer accounts. So why am I doing a 180 degree departure from the left side of the brain to the right? These are the thoughts that often run through my head as I struggle to find the beginning, middle, or end of a story.
The thing is, I LOVE children’s books – especially picture books and middle-grade novels. As many others in our 12 x 12 group, I rediscovered my love for children’s books after I had my own children. About two years ago I decided to try my hand at writing a picture book. Can’t be so hard right? WRONG! Honestly, I didn’t have the faintest clue of where to get an idea.
I did PiBoIdMo in 2010 and, after falling behind, I finished with only seven ideas instead of thirty. After the dismal finish, I switched gears a little and started a blog since I love to recommend books to my friends and family. Four months later, I finally had a first draft of a PB and got myself into a critique group.
Then I attended my first SCBWI conference – the big one in LA and attended one of their round table critiques. Let’s just say the story got ripped to shreds, or so it felt. I left the conference on the verge of tears, wondering what in the world I was doing. With only one story, which I was clearly told was not a PB, even though it was under 800 words, I stuffed the story in a drawer and didn’t even think about it.
Instead, I focused back on my love of blogging about books, and was fortunate to land a position as a first round judge of Easy Reader/Chapter Books for the Cybil Awards. This was a wonderful experience as I got to meet some great folks (mommy bloggers, librarians, literacy advocates). After a while, I got my groove back and did PiBoIdMo 2011.This time I actually finished, and the best parts were meeting a lot of new writers via the FB page, getting involved with Perfect Picture Book Friday by Susanna Hill, and learning about the 12 x 12 from Julie Hedlund.
By January, I was ready to take a look at the MS that was in the recess of my drawer. I sent it to Rate Your Story expecting to get a 10. After all, I was told it wasn’t a PB. Instead I received a 7 with lots of useful line edits and I was thrilled. I knew what I had to fix. In fact when I now look back at the draft that went to the conference, I agree it sucked. So somewhere in the process of the six months I grew in my writing. That was the best feeling in the world. For that reason, I save every single draft of anything I have ever written.
I recently heard an author say that the path to publication isn’t an upward diagonal line to the right, but rather, a squiggly road. I definitely think I am on some sort of circuitous path. I still love dissecting picture books and critiquing more than coming up with my own stories. However, I am willing to keep trying to write for now. Being in the 12 x 12 certainly helps keep me focused on writing.
I would like to thank everyone in the 12 x 12 group for their wonderful, encouraging spirit and willingness to share information. I am learning so much and, well, probably spending more time on FB than I should. Thank you all. I wish all of you the best on whatever squiggly writing path you are on. Embrace the twists and turns, and ups and downs – there is something to be learned from every experience. So to answer my question, yes I think I am a writer on my own special journey just as you are on your own special journey.
Darshana Khiani works in high-tech by day and dreams of becoming a published author by night. Her favorite activity is browsing the picture book shelves of her local library searching for the next great story. Check out her book reviews at Flowering Minds, and keep up to date on the latest in the kidlit world by “Liking” her on FaceBook.Categories: 12 x 12 in 2012, Goals, Picture Books, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: 12 x 12 in 2012, Darshana Khiani, Julie Hedlund, Picture Books, Tuesday 12 x 12, Writer, Writing