In June, Writers’ Rumpus celebrated its first blogiversary. I’m continuing the celebration in this post, making it last the entire summer!
I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into when I agreed to be a Writers’ Rumpus group blogger. I hadn’t wanted to commit to blogging on my own. My writing life seemed busy enough already. And after teaching elementary school for 35 years with all the schedules and never-ending responsibilities, sometimes I’m commitment-phobic. But when our critique group leader, Marianne Knowles, suggested we start a group blog, it seemed like just the push I needed to start swimming in the blog-pool. I’m glad I dove in. Sometimes when I’m ready to create at my computer and the revision isn’t working or I’m just not feeling the picture-book mindset, I can work on the craft of writing by working on the next blog post, even if the deadline is weeks away.
It’s been very cool to interview other authors, illustrators and publishers. I love the writing process and business, and blogging has provided great opportunities to learn more about it and at the same time spotlight others. I always appreciate when I get a chance to be interviewed, so I love being able to give back in that way.
Two months after we first began blogging I learned that my third book was to be published. Getting an email saying that a contract is on the way feels wonderful. It’s a validation to counteract the many many many rejections I receive. (I am an avid submitter…If you don’t try you don’t succeed!) But now, this event became something I could blog about. I could share my feelings as the book goes through its birth process before Pauline Books and Media officially launch Before I Sleep: I Say Thank You on January 1, 2015. And when I recently received the pdf in an e-mail for proofing, I had this blog space to share my reactions. I wanted to be able to explain in words how I felt seeing the illustrations with my text for the first time to the readers of the blog. Talk about emotional! The joyous choice of the colors Mary Rojas picked, the minimal white space, the layers of additional story she added in many of the pages, illustrated end pages…for all this and more, I am grateful. Now it is real…my manuscript has become a book that will be in little hands. For the next few hours after I read the proof my head was fuzzy, my heart expanded.
Here too, I can shout out and share my recent publishing news. Because Diana Zipeto sent an e-mail with a call for submissions to Marianne Knowles who forwarded it to the rest of our group, I sent five manuscripts to Schoolwide, Inc…and one was accepted. It will be my first e-book! I most certainly envisioned this as a picture book. Instead, it will be part of a digital library that is geared toward teachers and schools. It turns out this is a perfect fit for me and for this story. And as a writer, I know an important truth – we must be flexible.
In the comment section, as well as in posts, this blog is a place all of us can share our ups and downs about the world of children’s books. Readers visiting the site will understand, since they’re on the same page. So, you may have noticed above when I mentioned my new acquisition I also slipped in the fact that four manuscripts were rejected. And recently I received an e-mail and phone call about the possibility of a different publisher about acquiring another manuscript. But that same day, I got two e-mail rejections. And that’s okay because I know that’s part of this business. I know this because of other artists who share their paths to publication with me, whether in person, on this blog, or on another blog.
Blogging lets my life as an author get viewed through a new lens. Will the readers of this blog be interested, learn something, benefit as an artist in some way if I write about that? I appreciate it when I read an honest blog about dealing with the kidlit world, whether it’s good news or difficult things we have to deal with. With a profession that can be so isolating, it is important that we have a place to go to connect with others who can understand. Even for those of us in the same critique group, we rarely have time to share our news or talk about our processes–we are too focused on critiquing each others’ work and the story at hand. We can meet here at Writers’ Rumpus to cheer for each others’ accomplishments and empathize with disappointments.
So I am officially celebrating this first blogging year with this post. I raise a toast to you all for your interest, support, and inspiration as we gather here together as artists in the world of kidlit. Thanks for being a passenger in my authormobile.