Friday, November 17, 2006


Over at Bartography, Chris reflects on his writing projects over the last year. Got me to thinking about my past year.

It's funny; I'm an illustrator, but this past year, I've spent much more time writing than drawing or painting. Really. I wrote something every day this year. In fact, on most days, I wrote several things — blogs, poems, text for cartoons. Many of those things simply sat on my computer desktop, to be thrown out when clutter prevented me from finding a needed file. Others, I turned into blogs, picture book manuscripts or cartoon strips.

On the writing side, this year has been one of tremendous growth for me. I received my first bit of success by winning Lee & Low's New Voices Honor. I received my first rejection (as a writer) from an agent and an editor. I joined a writing critique group, took an online children's writing course and read at least 300 picture books and YA novels. And wrote about 7 picture book manuscripts.

I wrapped up 2005 by stating that in ’06, I would 'take the show.' By that, I meant I would accomplish much by setting my goals high, and that I would end the year with something concrete to add to my resume. But, I underestimated the time it would take to develop a strong, marketable manuscript, and the time it would take to get someone interested in publishing that work.

I work at a newspaper. I witness reporters come in by 9 a.m. and leave 8 hours later having researched, written, and have had edited, several stories — big people stories. So the idea of taking months, even years to write a picture book took me by surprise. I figured something in that process must be broke. Not to sound condescending, but honestly, I just didn't know.

I'm not complaining, I love to write, I've learned a lot and I respect the process. What I've learned — and am continuing to learn everyday — will be the foundation for a successful writing career in the future; I'm convinced of that. But, for 2007, my highest priority, besides continuing to write and grow, will be in convincing an agent or editor to give me a chance to prove myself on the writing side of this business.


Paula said...

Don, such an honest reflection. And if you've come to that conclusion only after lots of hard work and some rejection, imagine how un-schooled most are. If I've heard it once I've heard it many times that "anyone can write a book...especially a children's book."

When celebs like T.O. throw their hat in the ring, it almost makes that declaration true. ALMOST.

So much of our industry is hidden from the public. Many see the finished product and assume it was easily brought to the table for their judgement and consumption.

But I digress...much luck to you in '07 with your writing goals.

rindawriter said...

Well, Don, those reporters have probably had a great deal of training behind the scenes, like I would bet some of them have degrees of some sort in writing or journalism. They've mastered their short form to a degree with lots of practice.