WAITING

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Waiting for responses can be so hard. In writing, it can be unBEARable (yeah, I just did that).

Why you ask? Well, we send our work off to an agent, editor, publishing company, somewhere, and we wait for a response. We HOPE for a “Yes! You’re work is incredible!” But we know the reality is we aren’t going to always hear that. In fact it can be quite rare. Many times, as I’ve personally discovered, and many writers have mentioned it happening to them, we NEVER hear back- not even a form rejection.

Let me give you some stats that I have over the past year from a picture book manuscript that went through a mentorship at Highlights Foundation, and left in sparking condition:

Sent to 35 agents, editors, small presses, and mentor/fellowships.

16 said no - 15 form rejections and 1 loved it but had to pass

13 no’s because of time, meaning they never replied, even after the three month nudge reminder

6 I am waiting to hear from

1 Revise and resubmit (I’ll be sending a friendly nudge soon)

That’s just ONE manuscript. There were to other PB MSs I sent out to a couple agents, but were either rejected or heard nothing. I did stop sending them after some critiques came back with the same issues. It also does not count the poems- single, groups, and chapbooks- that I’ve had rejected, as well as a couple short stories in the past year.

All told, I’ve had 35 rejections, and waiting to hear from 14.

It’s disheartening seeing those number. I was disheartened counting them. Twice. To make sure they are accurate.

The 29 that have said No to the one PB make me want to give up on it. It’s polished. It’s undergone some changes since April as two editors mentioned the same flaw, and both said how to fix it. One is whom I’m waiting for.

It makes you want to quit.

But, when you love something, and you believe in your work, you can’t. Ever.

So, you don’t. You keep at it and you just. Keep. Writing. And revising. And revising. And rev (okay, you get the point). And YOU SUBMIT AGAIN AND AGAIN!

Tomorrow is a big day.

It’s the reveal of a mentorship program for PB writers from #PBChat. The process of applying was incredible. Regardless of the outcome, it was a thought provoking application to fill out, one that has helped to push me along, and get me back into a writing groove (Even on here!). Tomorrow several PB authors (possible chapter book authors as one mentor was accepting them as well!).

I’ll just have to let you know.

But, for now, we’ll just have to wait.

How do you deal with waiting or with rejections? Let us know!

Keep Going

You love writing.  

I love writing. 

I love creating stories, their characters, their worlds, whether they’ll ever get read by anyone else or not. 

I have so many ideas swirling around my head, so many more spewed out onto digital paper, both for children, and adults.

Picture books are my absolute favorite. 

        No matter how many rejections you get, keep going. 

        No matter how many rejections you get, keep going. 

They’re where I want my writing to be focused, and where my writing is focused. 

I recently sent out my polished PB MS to another half dozen agents a couple days ago, already getting one form rejection. I wasn’t disheartened.  It was actually kinda nice to get a response, positive or negative, considering half of my ‘No’ responses from agents and small publishers to this MS are because of time, rather than an actual response, even with a friendly nudge after four months. 

But this means more overall. Once it hits a certain number, I wonder if it’s the MS, and that it needs some new eyes on it.

Enter Eastern Pennsylvania Society for Children's Books Writers and Illustrators (hereforth called EPA SCBWI- I’m hoping why is obvious).

We have our annual conference coming up in April, from the 12th to the 14th. Part of the experience is being able to submit a manuscript/ first pages/ portfolio for critiquing for a lower than usual price something like this would cost. 

                    You know you can’t stop chasing.

                    You know you can’t stop chasing.

I have two that I love, that I think are ready to submit- one that I have submitted many times, and one tht has gone out only a few times. It was time to get new eyes on Number One, but I thought why not get another pair of eyes on Number Two, while sending Number Three in for addition to the critique group option. Number Three is the next one I want to have submission ready should One or Two garner interest and an agent/ editor ask for more submission ready work.

Despite the No responses, and feeling like I have two manuscripts submission ready, and a third close-ish, you need to keep going.  If this is something you LOVE to do, then you can’t stop. If you have a dream, any dream, you have to chase it. That’s what life is for. Chasing your dreams- no, achieving your dreams.

So, no matter what it is, whatever it is you want to do, chase after it, keep going.

                                                          This one, just because it’s funny. 

                                                          This one, just because it’s funny. 

StoryStorm 2019

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I’ll be joining many others for StoryStorm.  For those that don’t know, StoryStorm is a challenge to come up with 30 picture book ideas in 31 days. Originally, it was called Picture Book Idea Month held in November, but creator Tara Lazar switched to to January a couple years ago to give everyone a fresh batch of story ideas to work with for the new year.

I first did StoryStorm back in 2015, when it was PiBoIdMo.  I have “won” the challenge each year, and some of those ideas have been turned into manuscripts. For the ideas that do not get turned into a manuscript, I keep them on file on my iPad, and also as a small booklet in my bag. 

I create a file on Scrivener for each year, with each idea following the same format:

Idea # 7


Characters:

Setting:

Problem:

Adventure:

Solved:

Notes:

I used to keep each as a separate notecard on scrivener, but putting them in one file is so much easier. From there, I just fill in the info that comes to mind when an idea slaps me on the back of the head.  The idea might just be a location, characters, or a problem.  I rarely end up with just one part filled in.  I usually get three of them filled in.  Many of my ideas come from Storybird.com For ideas that come from there, I write in the notes what pic it was.  On my account, I try to remember to favorite them so I can look back at them.  Sometimes I’ll e-mail myself a link for the pic.

 

Do you participate in StoryStorm?  Where do you get your ideas from?

Breaks

No, not the fun kind where you fall and break 17 bones because, like me, you’re old (no, that didn’t really happen).

I’m talking about the Creative Break, where you break all your pens, pencils, brushes, canvases, brains...no? Not that kind either?

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Well, what kind of break are you talking about?

I’m talking about the kind where you take a Break from your creative endeavors (okay, and maybe break a pen or two).

A couple years ago, I was listening to an episode of the podcast Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert.  In it, she helped a fellow author who was stuck.

 

You know stuck, right? Where you stare at a blank screen, a blank journal, a blank canvas, and you get a strong desire to smash it, quit, never do it again, but you don’t because you were told to just paint, write, create whatever comes to your mind because that’s what you’re supposed to do since everyone in the history of the world did that and it’s easy so why isn’t it easy for you.

So you decide you need to quit. 

Yeah, that kind of stuck. 

How did Elizabeth Gilbert help? Well, she told her to take ONE MONTH OFF. 

<gasp> 

NO!  You can’t!  You HAVE to stare at a blank space and create...something...eventually! 

Yeah, take a month off. Then, use a timer and sit, and write for one hour.  When the timer goes off STOP! No matter what- okay, maybe finish that sentence, BUT THAT’S IT! 

That part of the podcast ended there, and she interviewed Neil Gaiman (MY WRITING IDOL!!!), then interviewed the author at the end of that month. 

At that point in my writing, I was stuck.  I didn’t want to write! I wanted to give up before I ever really got started. 

So, what did I do? 

I took September off. 

I’m a teacher, so I figured September would be a good month off.  I had plenty to do early on in the school year.  But, I still had to fill that time at night when I’d sit, and write.  Or stare at a blank screen. 

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It was hard, especially towards the end of the month, as I was chomping at the bit to write.  I had ideas flowing, things I wanted to edit.  The ideas I did write down (can’t lose them!), but I held off on EVERYTHING else until October 1st. 

Did it help?  Yes! Tons! That next calendar year was my most productive EVER.

I did it again in September of 2017, even though I didn’t feel I needed it, and had another productive year.

This year?  Well, I took off part of August already, and will take off the next two weeks, to complete a month, but I’m ready to go already. 

Do I feel like I want to quit? Nope! Did I feel frustrated when I started? A bit, but nothing major.  I’m just taking the month off to refresh. 

Try a break from creativity when you’ve hit a prolonged slump, you never know what might come of it. 

Have you ever taken a regular break from creativity? Let me know about it! 

Take that break, and come out swinging!

Take that break, and come out swinging!