As NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month) comes to an end today, the habits we formed from daily writing shouldn’t end. Getting support and advice from our fellow writers is key to keeping us motivated, but in the end it’s up to you to do the work and write your story.
SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) is a fabulous organization that I encourage any children’s writer or illustrator to join. The networking and knowledge shared is vital to getting your work finished and published.
My local group which is run by the fabulous Nancy Castaldo and Lois Huey meets once a month at the Guilderland Public Library. This month we met at the William K. Sanford Library in Colonie and heard from four published authors: Nancy Castaldo, Rose Kent, Daniel J. Mahoney, and Eric Luper.
Each author spoke about the path they took to become a writer, which only proves that anyone can be a successful writer if you have the dedication to write what you are passionate about and practice, practice, practice. Nancy was the moderator, but her love of science and learning led to her writing. Rose was in the Navy, raised a family, became a freelance writer, was published in magazines, and then wrote her novels pictured above. Eric wasn’t much of a reader as a kid, but he enjoyed stories. It wasn’t until he was in a college writing class, that he became interested in writing. Even though he earns his living as a chiropractor, his first novel came out in 2002 and he has published many for Scholastic and Cartoon Network. Dan began his career as an illustrator and sent samples to publishers. He was published immediately by Clarion Publishers, who asked him to write the story to his illustrations. Dan also works as an x-ray technician. The path to publishing is different for every writer and it’s not easy, but it’s the love of what you are doing that has to keep you going.
When dealing with challenges, Dan recommended to keep writing and put your heart into it. Even though he was published by Clarion, when the company downsized, they didn’t want his type of books any longer. He kept writing and illustrating and seven years later was published again. Rose explained that giving birth to a story is messy and takes a long time. It’s an internal process and she also has felt the joy of publishing and the rejection. Eric’s first book was rejected 100 times. He still gets rejections after 20 books and looks for other paths.
Harry Potter was rejected 12 times.
A Wrinkle in Time was rejected 28 times.
Jane Yolen who has published 365 books is still getting rejections!
Learn from the process. Eric’s second book was in a different genre and was better because of his previous rejections.
All four authors absolutely love going into the schools and connecting with the children they write for. As Rose says, “It’s about hope. We don’t have answers to all the problems, but it goes back to hope.”
Their advice to writers:
Nancy–read, read, read and analyze like a writer. Keep a journal! Plot doesn’t always come when you want. You can refer to your journal later.
Rose–read and find the quiet space. Focus on the writing without the distractions. Write the story and make a mess.
Eric–try to write the book you wish you had in your hands at that age. Write what you are passionate about. The most interesting things happen when he doesn’t know what will happen. Let it show up.
Dan–write about what happened to you or what you are familiar with. Push yourself to to work on your story every day.
It was a pleasure meeting the authors and listening to their stories and advice. Do the work. Sit and write. Network and learn from others. Grow your writing family by attending meetings such as this one. To find out more about SCBWI, visit their website at www.scbwi.org
For journal prompts to get the writing jitters out of the way, follow my blog www.writetobehealed.wordpress.com