A very interesting talk with a friend who is at the top of her field in the medical profession. She is writing some children’s stories and has sent a couple to agents and publishers. And sent them off to more agents and publishers…
She said that this process has completely shocked her. In the medical profession, for her, she has found that if she puts in the work and knocks on a door, it always opens.
Not so in the Arts. She has worked hard, put in the work, she feels and knocked on doors. They have not only remained closed, but also without comment. I resounding ‘No.’
The Arts. Where unlike the scientific world, talent, skill and hard work do not mean that you will automatically be successful, taking successful to mean published.
So? Why write? You know why.
The issue is, how to eat and put a roof over your head in the process.
And we can discuss the debate, why write if no-one wants to listen? Can you really write in a void? Later.
The meeting of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators on Saturday at the inspiring John Ryland’s Library in Manchester exceeded all expectations. Carefully organised and gently led by Catherine Whitmore and Marion Brown, a very helpful, fun, educating talk by Steve Hartley who was extremely open to comments and interaction. A brilliant start to the day. Following thick, delicious soup and bread, an hour or two of critiquing. This, I was nervous about as I’d put in a piece of work, Moon’s Secret. Would it be torn to shreds or would it get comments of ‘very nice?’ Would it be hardly gain a comment? When you get nothing back, that is certainly the worst.
Very, very happily relieved. There were three groups, picture books, Middle grade and Young adult. There were six of us in the Picture book group. Very insightful, helpful, honest and thorough. And we had fun too. Phew. Absolutely spot on. Some comments surprised me, some I knew, all, I will take on board. I’ve known from past experience that you have to filter comments, decide what you agree on and what not, otherwise your work waters down and becomes a mess. All the comments from this meeting, I will take on board. And I enjoyed the other writers’ work. There is a lot of talent out there. Many thanks to my group. I’ve no idea what was said in the other groups, but that is their story.
Thank you, everyone for this day. I would recommend children’s writers and illustrators to look at joining SCBWI. Looking forward to more to come.
Tomorrow I’m going to my first meeting at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. The pluses, I will learn something, it’s at the fantastic, beautiful John Ryland’s Library in Manchester, I will learn something, there is a workshop, I will learn something, there is a critique session for which I have submitted material, I will be scared, I will learn something, I will meet other children’s writers, I will meet other writers, I will be out of my comfort zone. I will learn something. Breathe.
A book that opened a door for me when I was about ten, was Weaver of Dreams by Elfredo Dupont. It wasn’t fiction, but seemed like fiction, telling the story of the young Brontes, how they played together, went to a harsh boarding school, where the two eldest caught TB and died, and how this affected Charlotte to write Jane Eyre. A friend of mine and I copied their writing of tiny books and wrote our own series, 100 little books….we never completed the series, but we had a lot of fun writing and designing the covers. I’ve still got them, ‘The Adventures of Ruth and Clara.’
Many, many books have opened doors for me. That’s what great books do.
Adventure. A word full of possibility. A word open to interpretation. A word that can suggest something huge or small. But adventure always brings change. After an adventure we are never the same again. Besides writing, I love dancing and once a month I try to go to a Biodanza event. Please look it up, it’s using dance and movement to celebrate the joy of living, and so much more. Saturday’s Biodanza Vivencia opened a door to the beginning of an adventure as every Biodanza Vivencia does. So many doors to find and open. The adventure of living in the moment and putting complete attention to what is going on in that moment and in that place.
And also from Saturday, sending Cold Hands Meet Warm Heart and Noise of Snow out into the world. Funny, how we are more concerned for our off spring than for ourselves. Will people like them? Will people want to spend time with them? Will they be treasured?
And yesterday, seeing a friend I haven’t seen in ages and planning when we’re going to dance together again.
And last night arranging to meet with school friends and plan our next adventure. We did the Dales Way, we had fun on our Whitby Weekender…what next? Wild Swimming in Malham Tarn? The Coast to Coast? A Circular walk, Segways in Dolby Forest? But first, lunch at Libby’s to decide.
And waiting to hear if Lowry, Hopper, Tarsila and Kokoshka will grant permission to use their artwork in Moon’s Secret, the third in the series of books for children. And if not….the adventure of learning about more artists continues.
It’s that time of year when you want everything clean and clear. My Mum used to always say that she wanted everything sorted by the end of the year, so that the New Year came fresh and without debts or unsolved business. Well, I’ve not mastered that with things that seem out of my control, for example, the publishing business. So, I’m going through all my index cards which have results pending. Various agents and publishers have not returned my sample copies in the stamped addressed envelopes provided, so I am now going through and contacting them to see if they are still considering, or have lost the books or will return them.
And then what? Go the self publishing route? Contact more publishers and agents and hope they get back to me? Some have, with a ‘No.’ Piccadilly Press said NO, but they also sent a hand written note, saying they did like the books, but ….
I have published two, Cold Hands Meet Warm Heart and Noise of Snow on LULU, so that I could see mock up copies and take them into school for Story Time. Do I go all out and say, I’m publishing them myself? We can talk finances and profits and all of that another time. I’m still waiting for permissions or not on artwork for Moon’s Secret and Cloud Play, but do I go ahead if the others can’t find a home? I love Moon’s Secret, really love it. Munch is now out of copyright and features on the cover of this book, so wayhey, I can chase up Oskar Kokoshka, Lowry, Hopper and Tarsill do Amaral. I can source other paintings as Frank Stella and Rene Magritte said ‘No.’ I can get out my paintbrushes as well as my index cards.
I can continue on this journey which has opened my mind over the last year.