Once in the trenches, I realized just how little I knew about this path I'd chosen. Over the years, I learned (oh, how I learned!). Teaching is so much more than working with kids -- you have to deal with administration, parents, politics, budgets, etc. If only it were just about teaching!
Same is true with a children's writing career. You may think you know how to write for kids (I mean, how hard can it be?!?!?!), but when you get right down to it, you discover you really know squat.
It's important to recognize where you are on the path -- and to also recognize the waymarkers -- the signs that you're advancing . . . or not.
Over the course of the next several weeks (during my turn at blogging), we'll look at the different stages of a writing career. Today, it's the Novice category.
You know you're a Novice when:
- You read picture books or middle grade novels or young adult novels and think writing for kids is a snap.
- You have stories you want to tell, but haven't put them in writing yet.
- Or, you have put them in writing, but haven't paid attention to things like voice or word count. Or perhaps you've told a story exactly as it happened.
- In fact, you aren't even aware that you're supposed to be aware of the above.
- You've started to read some how-to books like The Complete Idiot's Guide to Children's Publishing by Harold Underdown or Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul.
- If you aspire to write picture books, you write them in the style of picture books from your childhood.
- You may enter your work in writing contests.
- You perhaps believe you have to find your own illustrator if you are a picture book writer.
- You may also think you have to pay someone to publish you (no lie,The Write Sisters have heard this many, many times). Seriously, publishers pay you!
- You think you're going to get rich writing for kids (ah, don't quit your day job just yet . . .)
- You believe that any children's publishing house will take any of the children's genres.
- In fact, you aren't aware there are different children's genres. You think writing for children is all about picture books (it just isn't so!)
- You read your stories to family members and kids (your own, your friends', your child's classmates), and you believe them when they say it's great. It may be, but chances are good, they're responding to you.
- You've started a rejection file, and don't realize this is a good thing (it means you're submitting!).
Every once in a while, we do a retrospective, individually and collectively. It's fun to see how much we've learned, how much more we've published, and how much fun we've had doing it.
You can, too!