Thursday, February 25, 2010

Twelve Things Children's Book Writers Should Do - #12 Be Patient

Okay, okay, we all know that it's a virtue, but it's so darn hard!

The first time I had finished my story, I squirmed with impatience. I wanted it published and I wanted it NOW.

Many children's book editors tell me that they get unsolicited manuscripts with letters asking for the book to be published in a month or for Christmas or for their birthday. The editors have a good laugh at these letters.

The truth that no one wants to really admit is that writing (and then becoming published) takes a lot of time. If you are serious, you know then the time and effort it takes to first finish the story, edit it, and edit it some more. This in itself can take years. Then it can take longer sending it off, being diligent and persistent, and perhaps taking another look at your manuscript when your results don't yeild quite what you hoped for. Good writing is a challenge. Most people give up because it honestly isn't as easy or fast as people hope. Good writing isn't a burst of inspiration, writing it down, and instantly getting published to fame and accolades (as much as we all wish it were).

When I used to teach English in Connecticut, I used to pass by a poster of Winston Churchill. The caption underneath said, "Never, never, never give up." I liked it, but never really gave it much thought until a student wrote about it in her essay. She was an older student, coming back to school after having a family and a job. She was worried about keeping up with the work and her duties at home and school. But she wrote in her essay that when she passed that poster of Churchill, it inspired her to persevere. Not only did she finish the course, but she was one of my top students in the class.

That poster of Churchill took on a completely new light to me. Just as that student didn't give up, neither should I. Her struggle was going back to class after a long time. My struggle is to become a published author. But Churchill didn't quit, neither did my student, and neither should I.

Writing is very hard, but it is also a lot of fun. I now enjoy just the craft of writing and set far more realistic expectations about how long it will take.

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