I’ve spent the last few weeks preparing presentations for the SCBWI Wild Wild Midwest conference this past weekend (which was fantastic, thank you to everyone involved!). I’ve been focussing and dissecting my own work, learning and appreciating what Linda Sue Park went through to write the sparsely worded, but thoroughly well-conceived, YAKS YAK, ANIMAL WORD PAIRS, and feeling like the luckiest artist in the world to have such a dedicated, passionate, hardworking agent as Marietta Zacker. I kept thinking that I needed to get to the library, to look at some new picture books for inspiration to present to you today in my post.
But I didn’t go.
And yet I realized that I am feeling overwhelming love for picture books right now. I spent a whole weekend pouring over friends’ and colleagues’ beautiful publications, listened to such creative and dedicated talent pitch and talk about their new, brilliant ideas. Picture book building!!!!!! A whole weekend surrounded by people who care passionately about that. So I would like to share with you a tiny bit of what I talked about during one of my presentations.
Everyone’s road to publication is different. Some roads are bumpy, many are twist-y, others veer off cliffs, while some steeply ascend. But most often one’s road is long. And it usually isn’t straight or easy. So here is my list of ten things that a creative can do while they’re waiting… so that when the editor, or agent calls, they have their bags packed and can head down their path.
TEN THINGS TO DO WHILE YOU WAIT TO TRAVEL DOWN AN UNKNOWN PATH
1.Build an impenetrable suit of self-confidence armor. Do whatever you need to do to have unshakeable belief in yourself and your talent. You won’t get this from any external source. In fact, your armor will get some big scratches and chinks. Take classes, join critique groups, make sure that you have the ability to mend and repair your self-confidence yourself.
2. Follow and participate in groups on social media, educate yourself to industry names, trends, and news. Be supportive and help promote the successes of your friends and colleagues. Commenting (especially thoughtfully) on social media gains name recognition.
3. Read Read Read
4. Stay active in SCBWI and support and join local writers’ and illustrators’ groups.
5. Get to know your local librarians and booksellers.
6. Be brave and courageous by sending writing/art samples out consistently to a honed group of editors and art directors.
7. “Create” work for yourself and build your own body of work by giving yourself assignments, goals, and deadlines.
8. Commit to calling yourself a “writer”, “illustrator”, or “writer/illustrator” and treat is as a serious profession (because it is).
9.”Be yourself, everyone else is already taken”~ Oscar Wilde
10. View “passes” as growth and opportunity for learning. This is an undeniable part of the process and means you are gaining insight and wisdom (and a callus or two?).
Here’s a shout out to all of you who have chosen a profession that celebrates children’s literature!
Love your Top Ten List!! Words of wisdom to help us all keep focused and not be discouraged. Thank you for sharing!
I’m so happy you feel this way about it Nancy, I love your work! Thank you!
9.”Be yourself, everyone else is already taken”~ Oscar Wilde
Yes, Jennifer. So true and maybe the hardest thing of all to do. Thanks so much for sharing your love of PBs with us!
You’re right, Andria! It’s hard to not try to ‘draw’ or ‘write’ like people whose work we like and admire. It’s very difficult to always like and admire our own— Thanks for visiting and commenting!
Boy did this post come at the right time! I could use a little encouragement. So thank you for sharing your insight. I’m posting your top 10 list at my writing desk!!
Really, Kris? You made my day! I’m so glad you found it encouraging. Hang in there! Thank you!
Paring down my words to two: Love it!
Thank you for visiting and commenting, Carole!
This is perfect. It took a long time for me to learn that I could call myself a writer! But that is exactly what I was, long before I was published. Great list!
I think we(I often) feel that those titles often need to be followed by an explanation, or a verbal resume. It’s hard to say out loud 🙂 Thank you so much for your comment!
Thanks for sharing your picture book wonder and love with us, Jennifer. I especially like your #1 suggestion about building an impenetrable suit of self-confidence armor. Love these suggestions. I think many people will be glad you didn’t make it to the library last week!
What a nice thing to say, Tess, thank you! And what a pretty name you have!
Great reminders, thanks!
Thank you for visiting and commenting, Rachel!
Wonderful list and I am sharing. I am packing my bags and have been “on the journey for 3 years now.” Yes, the path is different and unique for all. TY for this insightful post.
Hi Kathy! I wish you the happiest of travels!!!! 🙂
Thanks for the excellent advice, Jennifer. Would have loved to have heard you! Love your illustrations here too. I want my own big bear to read with!
Hah! I like that, Linda, the big reading bear! Thank you!
Thank you for the top ten! So glad I found your blog!!
Waiting! And glad I found your blog!!
I’m glad you found us too, Lisa! Thank you so much for taking the time to visit and comment! Best wishes!!!!!!
Encouraging words to keep writing and submitting!! Thanks, Jennifer!
Yep, I’ll admit . . . your list works! And the Wild Wild Midwest Conference was fabulous! Thank you.
Thank you, Kathy!!!!!! And it was a great conference!
Great list. Thank you. (Four words)
Thank you, Dayne!!!!!!
I’m obsessed with list-making, Jennifer, and this is a great one–thank you!!
Hi Maria, thank you so much— glad you like it!
Great list. I loved #10 about growth. Never stop growing. Growth can be difficult but is so rewarding. Look at where you started and look at how you grew to get yourself to where you are now. Wow!
Congratulations, Jane, on winning at the conference for your AMAZING 20’s flapper dress—- fringed book pages! Thanks for your nice comment.
Thank you for sharing your love and wisdom, Jennifer. I especially like Oscar Wilde’s advice. It’s easy to get sidetracked by trying to be what we are not.
Hi Anne, thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment. That’s one of my favorite quotes. It is really hard to trust your own vision when you like and admire so many other styles and approaches.
Wasn’t that a great conference? I am still processing. Thanks for sharing your wisdom here.
It was a great conference! Fun, informative, and the energy of all that talent and kid lit love!!!!! =wonderfulness. Thanks for commenting, Lindsay!
Thank you for sharing your insights. I am saving this and will reread it often to keep myself on track.
I’m so glad, Cindy! Thanks for visiting Picture Book Builders!
Thanks, Jennifer, for your ten things to do! Thank you too for signing my RABBI BENJAMIN’S BUTTONS picture book at the Wild, Wild Midwest Conference. I enjoyed meeting you.
It was a pleasure, Dorothy! Thank you for loving Rabbi Benjamin and taking the time to comment today!
It was wonderful to meet you this weekend. Your session with Marietta Zacker was one of my favorites, and I really appreciated your willingness to share your journey with us! I’ll always think of you when someone “passes” on my work, but in the best possible way. And I still can’t wait to meet that cat yours. 😉
Jess, thank you so much for your kind words! It was wonderful getting to be a part of such an exciting and uplifting weekend. I’m grateful that you took the time to visit our blog and comment. Yes, watch for Blue Ethel in the spring. I am guessing that she won’t arrive quietly 🙂
Thanks for sharing this. I think I’ll print it out and post it by my writing.
That’s an honor, Cindy, thank you!!!!!!
Thanks for this post, Jennifer. I love #7 – “create” work . . . build your own body of work.” Your advice and encouragement means so much!
I’m so glad you found it helpful, Melissa! Thank you for taking the time to visit and comment!
Great List. Thank you.
You’re very welcome, Diane! Thanks for visiting our blog!
Love this list, Jennifer – and your artwork! You are spot on with your top ten.
Thank you so much for your nice words, Eileen!
Hi Suzanne!!!! So great to meet you this past weekend 🙂
I am an avid reader of Picture Book Builders, but your post I printed out and have at my desk to read and remind myself – every day can be full of growth and possibilities. Thank you, Jennifer!
Liz, that was so kind of you to take the time to type and tell me that. I do believe that we have a choice re: how we view the ‘waiting’ period. Optimism keeps the possibilities open 🙂 Again, thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment!
Thanks for the timely list!
You are so welcome Debra! Thank you for stopping by Picture Book Builders!
I’ve printed out your list and put it on my desk. So hard to build that impenetrable armor!
I know!!!!! Somehow it helps me to actually ‘picture’ it. I think mine has lots of mixed prints and maybe some bedazzling rhinestones?
Thank you, Cindy!
Now I’m off to shine my armor.
I love the list and your inspiration picture of the bear.
Thank you for your words of wisdom and this list! Very helpful. I was also at the WWMW conference-it was amazing. My head is still spinning from it and your list is a reminder of how supportive and tenacious picture book writers are!
Thanks for the encouragement! I like this: “Create” work for yourself and build your own body of work by giving yourself assignments, goals, and deadlines.”