(Please note: This was originally written in November 2016)
I started 2016 with high hopes. This was going to be the year I became a published author. I did accomplish that but not in the way I had originally thought I would.
In March, I accepted a Freelance Writing position with the local newspaper, writing a weekly column of events that were happening in my community. It was not exciting but it was writing!
Over the summer, those happenings “dried up”. I had nothing to write about. I asked my editor if I could “write outside the box” so long as it started out with what there is to do in my little corner of the world. He approved my idea and I came up with a piece I called “Summer of American History” which entailed the adventures my daughter and I had visiting local historical destinations, including Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Gettysburg Civil War Museum and Battlefield and the breathtaking Shenandoah National Park. Our favorite destination ended up being the Ponies of Assateague. We spent endless hours on the beach and watched the Ponies in their natural habitat from a boat in the bay. I overloaded my phone with stunning pictures of the view from Chincoteague lighthouse and a myriad of birds fighting for scraps left by the tourists on the shoreline.
In addition to writing for the local paper I signed up for every writing group out there. It didn’t take long to realize in my zest to publish a picture book story, I just may have over-extended myself. Rather than excelling at two or three projects, I got very little of any projects done. That filled me with more self-doubt than I thought possible. What I should have accomplished, still hangs out there like an old sheet hanging on the line, held there by one crooked clothespin, flapping in the breeze, begging me to set it free.
But I persevered for three reasons. My daughter believes in me. My husband believed in me. And I invested a lot of time and money in becoming a published author. It is amazing how you can forge on when you have paid for something you aren’t quite sure you are cut out to do. I must say, I almost, almost, gave up on writing picture books but the community I met over at 12 by 12 gave me the inspiration to keep going. Many past members of 12 by 12 went on to be published picture book authors from a manuscript they first conceived as part of this phenomenal community! I am amazed at their fortitude. Their inspiration helped me to see I just needed to find the determination I knew I had and put my “I can do this!” card face up on the table.
And their inspiration had results! I submitted a manuscript and got my first official written rejection. In part, it said “It is a great manuscript and I wish you the best of luck with it.”. The only thing better than this would be “Great manuscript lets publish it!”
So, for 2017, I have limited myself to just five big writing projects (and yes! 12 by 12 is at the top of the list!). It will be a lot of work, grueling at times, but maybe, just maybe this time next year, I will be posting that my debut picture book will be coming out soon!