I almost didn't write this because I don't want to discourage anyone on their journey, but I decided to post to help folks realize that a journey is not always straight forward and filled with rainbows and unicorns. There are days you are completely unmotivated and discouraged, but if you want to achieve something you push through it and move on.
Last weekend, at the N TX SCBWI Conference, I realized that I have been a member of SCBWI for 19 years. Although I'm proud to be a member of such a fabulous organization, I immediately thought to myself, "Seriously?! Nineteen years and I still don't have a book deal!" I felt like a total wannabee and more than once thought maybe I should just save myself the frustration and say I tried but it's not in the cards. How do you know when you're just fooling yourself into thinking you are capable of doing something but really aren't? Yeah, not the best attitude, but that was my reaction. It is what it is. I do realize that I have accomplished some goals - I have had two articles published in children's magazines, illustrated 5 coloring/activity books for a Christian publisher, had an art rep for a few years, illustrated a few things for the educational market, and have gone to the national SCBWI conferences in LA and NYC. But 19 years is an awful long time, you know. I had what I call "An Eyeore Moment."
The theme of our conference was "It's Your Business". Not, "It's Your Hobby", or "You Can Give It A Try For Awhile But Feel Free To Quit When You Get Rejection Letters And Feel Like A Fraud" - frankly, that's really way too long for the conference folders anyway. Back to our conference . . . It was filled with people in the wonderful world of children's publishing - editors, agents, writers, illustrators, raffle prizes, a fabulous silent auction, and even a cookie break! Everything you could want in a conference and all in the great state of Texas.
Kayla Olson gave the first keynote and talked to us about her path to publication. Her book The Sandcastle Empire was published this year. Basically, she shared the same frustration I feel frequently and reminded us to "Give Yourself Grace". I needed to hear that since I was beating myself up. She kept with it and is living the dream. I can too.
I had a really encouraging critique of my dummy book from writer/illustrator powerhouse Salina Yoon. I absolutely love her work, so this really made my day. It was the boost I needed. I loved meeting her.
One of my favorite things about the conferences is that I can reconnect with friends I haven't seen since the last conference! Our chapter covers a lot of ground, and that's one reason why I'm grateful for our conferences. We can all come together and lift each other up and get the lessons & inspiration we need to continue on. It's like a cool drink when you feel like you're lost in the desert, crawling your way to Publishing Land.
After lunch we heard from Brett Duquette, an editor from Sterling, and Oh. My. Gawd. I want to work with that man. So hilarious. I told him my goal was to write something he absolutely loves and wants to publish it. That's a mighty task, but I'm eager to make that happen.
So, how the heck do I achieve my goal of having my very own book published? Well, I'm going to seek out ways to learn how to do this better - taking writing courses, watching YouTube videos and podcasts, committing to writing & illustrating each day even if it's just during my lunch hour and again after dinner, I'm going to study picture books and "Read like a writer", I'm going to submit stories to my critique group and then submit to publishers when I feel they're ready (or maybe sooner because there's a chance I might never feel they're good enough). I'm going to re-vow (is that a word?) to do whatever it takes to become a published author/illustrator and I'm going to continue to go to conferences to learn and be inspired all over again. Quitting isn't an option. It's been a dream of mine to work in children's publishing since I was a kid, and how can I deny Little Deb of that?!?!