By Carol Ekster
I believe all that matters in life requires courage. I read that in Yoga Journal magazine. Sharing your art was one of the things mentioned. I’ve been sharing my art – writing for children – for more than twelve years now.
Why is courage needed? Well, to start, you are opening yourself up to the opinion of others when you put your work out there. Maybe you bring your work to critique groups or submit to editors. I’m sure you’ll get some positive feedback, but you’ll also get suggestions for improvement, criticisms, and possibly ideas to change it to a totally different story. Children you know might be the only ones who tell you they love your work.
Jane Yolen said if you listen to the positive reviews you have to listen to the negative as well. And there will be negative, whether in the form of rejections or comments about your work, whether it’s a manuscript or a published book. I am shocked that when I post my review of an acclaimed novel or picture book on Goodreads or Amazon there are always some negative reviews. We must accept that will happen for all kinds of art. There are as many tastes as there are stars in the universe. All reviews are opinions. Opinions are very different from facts. The fact is that we are artists and each one of us has our unique take on communicating, putting our words or strokes down on the page. Fullfill your mission in this world and do what it is you do, despite the opinions of others.
I’m practically a roaring lion’s courageous with all the rejections I’ve received…well over 1,000 in my twelve and a half years of submitting. But I needed those rejections to get my acceptances. And yes, I’ve gotten negative reviews.
I got a one star review for my divorce book, Where Am I Sleeping Tonight? (A Story of Divorce) because it was too old for the reviewer’s five year old…even though it’s advertised for six through ten year olds. It still hurt! But I’ve also gotten five stars with words that gave me goosebumps, “My eight year old tore into this book, and gave me a huge gigantic hug after she was done.” Somewhere a little girl unknown to me was touched by what I wrote. And then I got a review for my second book, Ruth the Sleuth and the Messy Room, “Maybe this works for neurotypical kids, but if your kid is an ADDer, don’t bother. Ruth manages to find the item before the buzzer, so there are no consequences for her disorganization.” Okay, I know I shouldn’t have commented on that one, but I couldn’t help myself. The reader missed something in the story.
But then another review said:
“Their teacher read it to them as part of their English Language Arts class. It contains great vivid vocabulary to discuss, and some onomatopoeia. One student said the story encouraged her to clean her room, and was inspired to keep it from getting messy again.”
That’s exactly why I wrote it, for teachers to be able to both use it to model writing and to inspire children to become more organized.
My third book, Before I Sleep: I Say Thank You released yesterday: January 1, 2015. As I begin reading my first reviews I will gather courage and hold onto the reason I wrote that book, to help parents teach their children a practice of gratitude. I know before I even see the reviews that it will work for some families, but not for others.
I hadn’t thought about it, but my first e-book comes out March 2015 as part of a digital library with Schoolwide, Inc. and I’m not sure if I’ll ever know how children and teachers react to this book. Hmmm??? I’m confused if that’s good or bad. But my plan is to continue writing, submitting, and putting myself out there.
Join me! Make it your 2015 New Year’s resolution. Be courageous! If you don’t want to take my advice, listen to this quote by Winston Churchill: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
So approach that publisher, editor, or agent. What’s the worse that can happen? If you don’t bring your creations out into the world how can you influence little lives? And even if everyone won’t give you five stars, create anyway.
And for those of you who write picture books, I have a book I want to offer as a giveaway that I’ve found extremely helpful and I hope will help you write your best manuscript: Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication By Ann Whitford Paul.
Click here to enter for a chance to win Ann Whitford Paul’s book. Also, please enter the Goodreads Giveaway for a chance to win my new book, Before I Sleep: I Say Thank You, going on January 5th through midnight January 12th.