Dear Fellow Children’s Writers and friends,
Although my mother was not a member of the KidLit Community, it turns out she knew quite a bit about it. Here are five things she taught me either by word or osmosis that are standing me in good stead as I venture further into this incredible industry.
1. Treat Others the Way You Want to Be Treated
This is important at all times, but is particularly true of your dealings within Critique Groups and on social media. It is equally important if and when you have the opportunity to meet an editor as it is when you meet a newbie aspiring author. Of course what is required at these times may vary in wrapping, but essentially it’s the gift of respect you need to give.
2. Be Involved in my Community
From attending sports events to baking for school and church functions and fundraisers to volunteering, my mother was always involved in any community to which she/we belonged. In the KidLit community, this can translate into learning about the community via reading, joining groups, subscribing to newsletters, supporting literary or education based charities to name a few. It can also mean attending fellow author’s book launches, attending meetings, courses, conferences/festivals (if possible) and possibly even organising for an/some authors to; talk, do a workshop, write a expert’s piece for your (day job) workplace. If you’re lucky it might mean having the opportunity (as I recently did in The Duck Pond) to take on a leading role when someone else goes on holiday, takes a break or moves on.
3. Work Hard. Do/Be My Best
Practice makes perfect, try your hardest, challenge yourself, have a go, just do it! While these may seem like a bunch of platitudes there’s no denying that living by them produces results, ones that often surprise even ourselves. As with any creative pursuit, the harder and longer one works at it the greater their skills and knowledge become. So where I once thought, some people are just brilliant, talented geniuses (and some may well be) it turns out that practicing and at the very least immersing myself in writerly thoughts and observations has certainly produced a much higher standard of work than I was producing say ten or even five years ago.
4. Be Welcoming
This one relates directly to number one and number three, but needs to be genuine and honest or forget about it. How does one do this in the KidLit world? Simple, a smile never goes astray, nor does a kind or thoughtful comment, either on social media or in real offline world. Get to know other writers, be genuinely interested in them and their work and show it in your words and actions/emojis/GIFs.
Having done all of these things or at least the ones that resonate most genuinely with you or finding other suitable life lessons which relate- there are many- realise that there is a lot that is simply out of your control. So whether it be to God, Mother Nature, the cosmos, the universe, spirits of loved ones who’ve passed on, household gods- Doctor, Donna, Tardis- just kidding, seek assistance. Cross your fingers, join your hands, count your many other blessings, sprinkle water, light a candle, burn incense, blow your submission emails a kiss, or whatever ritual you choose, it takes some of the weight off you. Thus freeing you up to create. Then you can wish your manuscript babies well and let them go out into the big wide publishing world knowing you have done your very best, by them, your community and yourself.
Farewell for now fellow travellers,
Savour the quest,