Winding, Writing Road
Writing has been in my bones and part of my journey for a long time. I have written everything from press releases to speeches, newspaper stories, haiku and children's books. I even include words in many of my paintings.
But I recently decided to pull my children's book manuscripts out of the old files, revisit the ideas and take a fresh look at the "kids lit" market. Since struck with that thought just a couple months ago, I've gone from idea to immersion.
In a two-week span, I joined the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI), and then registered to attend the group's annual conference near Monterey at the beautiful Asilomar Conference Center. I figured this was the ideal opportunity to get a crash course-- learn what's changed since I last looked at the market, meet some inspiring folks, and/or get a reality check.
I accomplished all three.
I confess that I had some trepidation going in. I've been to a hundreds of high-production conferences and trade shows in the high-tech industry, often working behind the scenes to make things happen and help executives step out on stage and tell their story. I figured SCBWI would likely be a more low-key environment and an approachable group.
But I also knew I would be out of my element, stepping onto a new road.
I was a total newbie, there to soak up all the information I could. I intended to be a sponge… and I absorbed A LOT (more on that later), but my brain was starting to feel a little soggy. So, I stepped out during one of the sessions to get some fresh air— figuratively and literally.
The ocean was just steps away. As I wandered down the boardwalk path at Asilomar-- with a healthy dose of cold wind and some light rain-- clichés, poems and easy truisms bounced around in my mind:
I laughed a bit that these clichés were springing to mind, but they all seemed relevant to my journey into children's book writing:
- Long and winding road— There’s much to learn, many paths I could take, so many resources to tap into and topics to research. It’s not a particularly linear process and there's not a clear, predictable ending in sight.
- Road less traveled— Children's literature does not present a structured, easy path. This is a career of passion, creativity and commitment (and yet something that may be 'on the side'). It's not a common nine-to-five job. So, like Robert Frost, I will face my choices with uncertainty, wish I could travel both (or many!) roads, and will also likely be telling of my journey "with a sigh" on occasion.
- Many miles, single steps— Many a journey can seem daunting at times, but knowing your direction sure helps. In this case, I have some sense of direction, but I don't have step-by-step instructions. Either way, when it comes down to it, I still just need to move one step at a time.
Well... I've been known to be a bit of a fast-moving multi-tasker, so maybe a step or two at a time. Maybe even skipping down the path a little? And I suppose, stopping to take some breaks now and then, or explore a side-trail.
However things develop, I suspect it will be a fun and interesting road. And the conference was a fantastic first step.