I learned a long time ago that if you can hold your breath, suck in your gut, crunch your abdominal muscles until they are practically touching your spine — you can prevent your stomach from growling while attending a quiet but large crowded gathering. I had the opportunity to put these skills into practice this morning when I attended a long overdue SCBWI meeting.
Since I've lived in Austin, I've only attended, maybe, two meetings. I have this problem with getting active with anything that involves social interaction. Had they figured out a way to video stream those meetings right to my computer screen, where I could participate all by myself, I'd have been an active participant a long time ago. But I went; I'm so glad I did, and I'm still alive, though $18.00 poorer ‘cause I can't visit a Barnes and Noble without purchasing something.
Author Julie Lake led the meeting. Her discussion, The Zen of Revision, was very informational, covering much in the short time we spent there. I now have all sorts of ammunition in which to attack my writing goals. When this fall's SCBWI conference rolls around, I'd like to have a complete finished first draft novel, and at least 10 pages that are agent-ready for prime time show.
I walked away with two things ringing in my ears:
1. Write the dang novel. Each time I sit down to write, I let too many things stop me from proceeding. A little voice in my head starts telling me that I'm not good enough, not educated enough, not smart enough. It tells me that in order to write a novel, I need to have a Vermont College, or equivalent degree. The voice says that my ideas aren't interesting, and that getting published will be too hard, if not impossible. It likes to remind me that I'm black and tells me that no one cares about books for black kids anyway. This voice is so loud that I end up setting my novel and picture books aside.
2. I won't write the dang novel in a day. When I was in high school, I worked as a burger flipper for a chain restaurant. The motto there: work with a sense of urgency; get it done, and get it done fast! As a commercial artist/illustrator I've lived by those same principles. Deadlines are tight, and in most cases, the end product can be held in your hands, if not the next day, in a fairly reasonable amount of time. So the idea that it may take anywhere from three years to a lifetime before I even get some agent or editor interested in my work does not mix well with my get-it-done-tomorrow mentality.
But, I'm gonna try anyway.
On a scarier note: While at Barnes and Noble today, I noticed that actor, Michael J. Fox, is currently on the cover of AARP! Oh. My. Gosh! He ain't much older than I am. I'd better get this novel written if I don't want to do my first book signing from the nursing home.