Writing with an elephant

Contrary to popular belief, there is only one way to eat an elephant.  Though I’m sure your elephant looks vastly different than mine, whether it be in size, shape, or schedule, the fact remains.  Some days, I feel like I have a dozen elephants on my plate, but the one I’ll focus on today, you guessed it, is my writing.  The problem I struggle with being that I find myself ravenous for knowledge, education and community, is that I’m overwhelmed with options… and at the same time, feel completely out of the loop.  How do I get into the loop?!? Where do I start?!?  Where can I find more hours in my day? I’ll tell you what I’ve done so far, and I’m open to suggestions.

WEBINARS- I started out with a subscription to Writer’s Digest, and that was great for opening my eyes and introducing me to current industry standards.  I know I’ve mentioned before that I participated in and enjoyed WD webinars that were pertinent to Picture Book writers, and a couple of general webinars for aspiring authors of every variety.  I have also recently begun participating in Kid Lit College, my first webinar is in two weeks, on Picture Books & Page Turns.  I can’t wait.

BOOKS- I’m old fashioned. I love to hold an actual book in my hands and I’ve started to develop a small reference section of my home library.  Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul, which I’ve mentioned in earlier posts was the first and continues to be the most informative.  I plan to continue to fill my tool box, even if I must borrow.  What’s your favorite?

BLOGS- This is a whole other world for me, from reading to writing. Mary Kole, Tara Lazar & Vivian Kirkfield are some of the big-name bloggers that I’m following now. I’m also quietly learning from men and women who are finding their own success and still blazing their own trail.  I read every book review and author interview that comes across my radar, hoping to find nuggets of knowledge and learn about new releases.   My writing here started out as an exercise for me to push myself to use a different side of my writing brain. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am when my own site is found (and followed!) by someone in the Kid Lit world.  In one of the blogs I mentioned above, I read that “networking is like a slow dance.” So, I’ll continue my weekly posts, follow others, and reach out with comments when the opportunities arise.  I’d like to think that this site is creating blossoms for me, that will one day result in delicious fruit that resembles relationships, opportunities and real-world experiences.

BETA-READERS- A concept that I’ve remained wary of until very recently, beta-readers are a group of trusted and informed individuals, who read over a project and offer honest feedback.  It was fear that made me wary, and once I realized that I knew that I needed to pursue this opportunity.  I’ve reached out to a few women, each of whom offers a different set of experiences and expertise, and if they agree to be so generous with their time and energy, once I finish my revisions, that’s where my book goes next.

CRITIQUE GROUPS- If you’re looking for a birthday gift for me, I’d like one of these please! I’m kidding, kind of… I know that one day (hopefully soon) I’ll find my place but I’m not there yet.  If networking is a slow dance, developing the trust and rapport it takes to be a part of a critique group must be something along the lines of a crawl.

SCBWI- The Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators.  A club for people just like me! I’ve been in touch with my local chapter, and plan to get involved soon… but as I explained in a recent email to the chapter president, ‘real-life and “real”-work continue to get in the way.’ I’m going to find a way to make it happen this summer, right now I have my sights set on the June meeting.

All of the things I mentioned, and probably dozens more are wonderful opportunities providing a wealth of information and experience.  How do I fit it all in? How do I continue writing, and learning, and networking, all while working, wife-ing, and mom-ing? How can I squeeze more out of my already jam-packed schedule? Getting back to the elephant I mentioned earlier; the only way to eat it is one bite at a time. Which led me here, posting early on a Sunday and squeezing in a few informative posts before anyone wakes up.  I’m going to find a way to more seamlessly fit some part of this into each day.   It’s all a bit foreign to me though, and I imagine it will continue to be so for quite some time.  But I’ll stay the course, one bite, one post, one webinar at a time, and as always, I’m open to suggestions!

Thanks for reading, come back anytime!

-JP

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