Some seven or eight years ago I discovered children’s writing and it opened up a whole new world for me. I started with picture books and found them a very suitable challenge; say much with very few words, and make sure those words are the absolute best ones available.
Around that time I also discovered SCBWI and I attended my first conference. It was eye-opening and mildly depressing as I realized I still had a ways to go. Continued SCBWI interactions led me to understand the purpose of a first draft, the power of editing, and the importance of feedback.
The most important thing I learned was to accept a critique humbly and learn from it. This is something I continue to do as it is one of the best tools a writer can have, as painful or annoying as it may seem at times.
I worked on building my craft to support my art.
Around that time I was also getting steady grant writing work which, though not terribly creative, was still writing and still served to enhance my grasp of the language and the power of words to get something important across to the reader.
Then I moved on to translation work where I got a very clear view of the difference between my native language and my adopted language. I highly recommend a session of translation to deepen understanding of how language is constructed and used in daily life or business.
Making regular use of SCBWI critique events I found teachers and published authors willing to work with me to polish and groom my work.
Over the years there have been disappointments, false leads, rejections, paper cuts, tears and fresh starts. But most importantly, a sense of purpose and determination that might not have grown quite so strong had I had an easier road to travel. I don’t take anything for granted, not the commas, certainly not the words and least of all the sincere encouragement of those who have walked the path before me.
In the next post I'll show how one of my picture books progressed. Stay tuned!