Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Twenty Year Overnight Success

This past Sunday, The Sisters reprised our Build, Maintain, and Ignite Your Writers' Group presentation for NESCBWI critique group leaders. It was an amazing and well-attended event. Afterwards, someone thanked me for our efforts. She also said she was impressed by how successful we were.

That one comment has been bouncing around in my mind ever since. Successful. I hadn't used that word for us yet, but – hey – why not? The release of Women of Granite and the requests for us to speak that come pouring in are enough to remind me that things are starting to pop for The Sisters. It really does feel like success.

The reference to success has me thinking about the success continuum. Over the last week, I've been working on a proposal for the NESCBWI Spring Conference – a proposal aimed at beginning writers. I've been thinking back to my start in the field way back when in 1988. Who knew I'd arrive here? Certainly not me!

All I knew in the early days is that I wanted to write for kids and to have that work published. There was no way I could have imagined six books to my credit and a great group of women to share the writing life.

Actually, there was a way to imagine my future self. That's why I find Stephen Covey's The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People so helpful. Covey's first three habits resonate. The first is that you are the creator of your own future. Covey suggests thinking and writing about it using specific, concrete details. Some do this obituary style. If you're uncomfortable thinking about your own death, try writing what a reporter might say about you ten, fifteen or twenty years down the road. Here's an excerpt from my imagined obit:

Award-winning author, Janet Buell, died this morning. She was 110 years old. Buell wrote over seventy-five books for young people. The author's repertoire spanned many genres, including picture books, creative nonfiction, and novels.

Buell was known for her brilliant use of language, and for creating engaging, quirky characters. She was a well-respected figure among authors of children's and young adult books, and for mentoring up-and-coming authors of juvenile literature, including world renowned authors Minto Abular and Faye Belvedere Wright. As a lecturer and teacher, she traveled widely. She was a member of The Write Sisters, a group of seven women with over 550 children's books among them. The group wrote a series of state biographies on the often overlooked and under-appreciated women of each of the 50 states.

So, start thinking about what you want people to be saying about you down the road. The analogy is fitting, because this imagining will help you create a map of your future. Later this week, I'll write more about creating your road map with the second habit – Begin with the End in Mind.

1 comment:

Ann Marie said...

Your workshop was great fun and I left with my head spinning with ideas for our critique group. Thanks for sharing the spark!