Organic Writing: A Time Of Fallow For A Fertile Imagination

WAIT! And Imagine… These are my words for 2022.

Hello Fellow Children’s Writers and friends,

A new year, a new start, time to get in and do a better job than last year, time for New Year’s Resolutions and for the more enlightened and less self-flagellating of us: goal setting.

Of course there are some areas of my life where I could have done better than last year, but overall considering it was the second and for me, much more challenging year of a global pandemic, I’m more than happy with what I achieved.

Sure, I would have loved to have given Star a better start in the world by physically getting out there with it, but for the large part this was out of my control and I simply have to accept that and move on to 2022 where there may still even be some opportunities for me to share my debut PB.

2022 for me, however will look very different to 2021 for it needs and hopefully will be a year of fallow, preparing the soil of my imagination for potential creation and growth. I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up being my words for next year.

My word last year, although I forgot about it part way through the year was SHINE and shine I did, in almost every aspect of my life! If you follow my blog or only read my last post you will see what I mean. It’s funny how you don’t have to consciously work on your word, except for perhaps the first few weeks while you are clarifying your goals and plans, yet it still permeates and impacts on your life.

So, why are 2022’s words WAIT! and Imagine…?

Despite all that was going on in the past two years, I also put the added pressure of acquiring another contract on myself. You may say, ‘That’s not a bad thing is it? Shouldn’t you be trying to get other books out there, build a career?’ Definitely, if that’s what you really want. While that is what I really want now, it wasn’t when I started writing PBs. (I’ve always written for my own pleasure) When I started writing PBs it was because I experienced so many beautiful ones in my life first as a teacher then a mother, that I wanted to write and publish one too. End of story.

Goals change as your journey unfolds.

It was wonderfully serendipitous and simultaneously unfortunate for me, that my contract came quite quickly. Quite early in the process, so for me the obligatory apprenticeship of a children’s book creator, the endless writing practice, the waiting, the resting, the allowing my creative soil to lie fallow while I continue to practice, learn and grow has come and will continue to come now, before my one day second book.

Fallow fields, rich soil, lush green crops.
Can this cycle work equally well for creatives?
I certainly hope so

While I know I write well and I am now again close to publication (this I know because I’ve been told it repeatedly) I also know that I can do better still if allow the process to be more organic, if I don’t force it, if I WAIT! (capitals and exclamation mark to remind myself)

I can write the way I wrote Star. You see I’d veered off into ‘clever’ writing and lost sight of storytelling. I was submitting like mad and beating myself up for not doing enough to climb the next step up into my publishing career.

I’d forgotten an essential part of the journey is the WAIT(!). I was rushing ahead, not letting good mss rest. Why? In all honesty, I didn’t want to be a one hit wonder. I suppose there’s still a chance I will be, but by waiting, I’m giving my mss the best chance to not just be good, but great and if that doesn’t equate to more books, at least I’ll know I’ve done the best I can. But with any luck, soil left fallow will become fertile ground for my imagination. For me to imagine. To play and to create. To indulge my inner child, remember why I love writing and take the pressure off. Will this result in an illusive 2022/3 book contract? Who knows? I guess I’ll just have to WAIT(!) and see. And perhaps Imagine… and dream, like I used to. . .

‘…where silence is complete, where there are no traces of light until [we] the poets hang the stars.’

Words Are Like Moles from Sister Fox’s Field Guide to the Writing Life by Jane Yolen

Have a think about where you are right now and what word/s might serve you best in 2022. If you’re inclined, I’d love go hear your word and maybe the reason for its choice in the comments below.

In the meanwhile, farewell fellow travellers,

Savour the quest,

Journeygirl

Posted in Creativity, Organisation, Professionalism, Road to Publication, Writer's Conditions | Tagged | 5 Comments

My Rollercoaster Year in Review

Merry Christmas (Eve) Fellow Children’s Writers and friends,

What a year it’s been! I’ve planned to have this post up since October, particularly while I had mss out there on submission. I planned to look good, but deep down I guess I soon realised this post wouldn’t be written until now despite starting it two or three times over with different headings. Let’s face it, I thought it would be Boxing Day, so bonus points for me.

Between, my husband Daryl starting a new business, crazily becoming an essential worker despite my casual/emergency teacher status as the LGA I live and work in was Locked Down and returning to my other job as a Sacramental Coordinator to attempt to complete 2 of the 3 Sacaraments over 3 different dates with the learning sessions for one of them still to be completed. Add to that two Covid cases, one where we were all close contacts and the ensuing paperwork, plus a reporter who wished to do an article on the return of the celebration of Sacraments and yes writing and creativity has taken a bit of a backseat.

Government Paperwork Argh!!!

Still, I launched my Picture Book, Star in amongst all that and despite being unable to get out and promote as I would have liked, there were some great milestones along the way (see below) I also managed to maintain being a member of the wonderful Group 3 or was it 4 and later Picture Book A group of the incredible CKT Cocoon Club where I’ve worked on several stories both as a critic and as a ms presenter. I was determined to put my creativity high on the list despite everything else. What have I done this year, a fair bit as you can probably already see? Creatively?

The through line has definitely been becoming and participating in every session as a WestWords Fellow. Most of these were via Zoom, but we did have two live sessions, one presented by last year’s Fellows and one to wrap up as this year’s Fellows. WestWords are seeking 2022s Fellowship members and I cannot encourage strongly enough any Western Sydney creatives to apply for the Fellowship which is accepting submissions right now! We explored the craft and the business of writing from so many different angles. There were adult writers, song writers, poets, artists and of course children’s writers. We discussed taxes, publishing houses and styles, ‘met’ with three different editors all of whom offered different opportunities to help us and our work grow and we helped shape next year’s Fellowship. You can thank us later and believe me, you’ll want to! So without further ado, what have I done through this rollercoaster year?

  • Submitted at least ten different mss, some multiple times
  • Entered the CYA ,Writers Unleashed, Scribbles, WestWords, ZineWest and Blacktown City Mayoral Writing Competitions
  • Submitted 5 mss for assessment at the CKT and CYA Festivals and received very positive feedback on all bar one. Was repeatedly told how close I was, so begins the rollercoaster.
  • Was highly coomended in the WestWords competition gaining publication in the Living Stories Anthology launched by our governor- Margaret Beazley AC QC
  • Completed AWC Picture Book Course with Zanni Louise
  • Began Tim Harris’ LOL Course
  • Received a standard reply mass rejection
  • Began and almost completed Zanni’s part of the Zanni Louise and Anba Pignataro’s Picture Book Writing and Illustrating Course
  • Discovered a new love of and greater admiration for children’s book illustration/ illustrators hence not completing Anna’s part of the course, yet!
  • Submission response date passed, Crickets definitely heard in the background
  • Completed the Alison Tait’s 30 Day Writers Bootcamp
  • More standard reflection letters received via email.
  • Attended all Masterclasses in the Duck Pond and several of the Workshops offered by Creative Kids Tales.
  • Two more submission response dates pass- more crickets
  • Sold my first two copies of Star to an old friend now living in Switzerland for her Aussie grandkids
  • Launched Star via Zoom to much excitement and several sales to the approximately 50 attendees with help from my wonderful daughter Darah and beautiful friends Amanda Langlois and Cate Whittle. Thank you all
  • Worked in partnership with two bookshops to sell signed copies of Star
  • Star reviews published in BuzzWords ezine. Thanks Dannielle Viera and Karen Hendriks
  • Was published (4 pieces!) both as a writer and an artist in ZineWest 2021
  • See Star IRL in a bookshop and my friend Jo Staker posts about seeing Star both at her local library and at The State Library of NSW Bookshop!
  • My church piety stall orders and sells copies of Star unbeknownst to me (Thanks Alison) until I was asked to sign a couple of gift copies- never gets old 😁
  • Chuffed to realise I was being seen as a bit of a mentor by a couple of members of my Cocoon Club PB A group
  • Created a promotional video for the CBCA Showreel of books born in lockdown
  • Was interviewed for Reading With A Chance of Tacos Podcast
  • Sold my 11th copy of Star to the same friend for her grandkids, neighbours, bosses kids- you’re the best Frances!
  • An orchestra of crickets is heard in my writing study
  • Helped (a tiny bit) my old primary school put on a beautiful Christmas Event using Star – proudly watch the final event
  • Realised that despite desperately wanting to, I wasn’t going to get the final assignments in for Zanni and Anna’s Picture Book Writing and Illustrating Course
  • Received three beautifully written and encouraging rejections- in one day!
  • Held my first workshop for Star at a local Playgroup, difficulty with communication of time changes meant I was an hour later than expected.
  • Sold 5 books anyway
  • Star reviewed on the informative, hilarious, brilliant One More Page
  • Ordered 30 more copies of Star as sales continue to grow
  • Star reviewed on Hope 103.2 by Debra Tidball
  • Was interviewed by Katrina Roe of Hope 103.2
  • 5 more copies of Star requested for my church piety stall

So there you have it, as promised last month to ensure I did it, the ups and downs of being a children’s writer in one crazy rollercoaster year. I hope it provided you with encouragement for your own creative journey or at least an insight in the life of a children’s writer during a pandemic.

Farewell fellow travellers, wishing you every blessing and many dreams coming true in 2022,

Savour the quest

Journeygirl

Posted in Creativity, Networking, Organisation, Professionalism, Road to Publication, Submitting For Publication, Work/Life Balance, Writer's Conditions, Writing Conferences, Writing Groups | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments