This is the second installment of brief insights and observations from the 2016 SCBWI LA Conference that was held July 29-31. Look for specific, but perennial, tips in my Blab-o-Tips newsletter!
At lunch at the conference friend and I were talking about how overwhelming it can be to walk into a library or bookstore and see all of the books available. We catch ourselves asking: “How will anyone find my book?” or even more despairing: “What’s the point?”
This second one has plagued me as I struggle with revisions on my YA before it goes to my agent again. “It sucks. I have nothing new to say.” etc. I always have this feeling when I get to this phase in writing a novel. Every. single. time. But somehow it felt different with this one. For the first time, I wondered aloud if I should abandon it. I’ve never done that.
But then a beautiful and wise angel said to me: “Don’t you think there’s a reason you’ve been working on it for five years?” Bless you, Tracy Barrett.
I think there is and I needed to hear someone remind me of that. But that’s another post. 🙂
A lot of people will answer this question with “I can’t not write.” In fact, I often answer it this way because it’s true. What I believe we are really saying is, “I can’t imagine my life without writing in it.” And then an addendum that we might say aloud or might only whisper to ourselves: “And it would be great for it to get published too.”
And this second one can freeze us in our tracks when we go into that bookstore or library or even to a conference and look around at everyone else who is doing what we are doing. Remember that sense of community I talked about last week? Well, if you are in a different frame of mind, you might see them not as friends, but as competition. And if you do, you may find yourself huddled in a corner, afraid to say anything, meet anyone, or do anything.
Are publishers accepting new work?
I will be sending out a special report to my Blab-o-Tips subscribers, but in general, agents, editors, and publishers at the conference were all excited and encouraging about children’s books. They are eager for new writers and new books, but they did say the bar is higher now. The quality of books has gone up so they are looking for that book that stands out from the rest.
I came away discouraged: That ending is comfortable but predictable
I came away excited: That ending is comfortable but predictable and I can’t wait to see if I can turn it on its head!
So if publication is your goal, there is reason to hope, to rejoice–we can place our very best, most unique and ground-breaking work!
If you have to write or illustrate, do it
That’s what I’m doing. Even when it’s painful. Even when I think it sucks. Because that’s just part of it.
And I believe what I have to say is worthwhile–most of the time. And when I don’t, I just remind myself or get an angel to remind me that it’s true.