Monthly Archives: July 2015

New Posts

I’m finding it harder to find topics for my blog.

It’s much harder than finding ideas for my stories. I can easily think up unique, interesting, fun, usable stories every week for my picture books. How is that?

I’m thinking all the time. I am a quiet solitary person by nature. I have lots of think time. But somehow that does not translate into blog ideas. Or things to tweet on Twitter. Or Things to say on Facebook. Or emails to friends, or ways to connect with potential agents, or, or, or.

My brain seems to be wired for one thing. Picture books (and illustration ideas).

What’s the difference? Why do I have so many ideas for kids, for pretend, for fun, but so few ideas for everything else?

I wonder if after 46 weeks of concentrating on developing PB ideas, I’ve rewired my brain? Strengthened one skill and knocked out others? I’ll spend this week concentrating on blogs and tweets and posts. Let’s see if I can find anything.

Week 45, and Thinking about SCBWI Summer Conference

It is now week 45 of my 52 First Drafts Project. That means I have written 45 first drafts of new picture books. When I sit back and just try to comprehend what that means, I am amazed. I was actually feeling more inspired than usual this week so have written ahead of pace. I have not only written PB 45, but  number 46 and have started 47.

This wasn’t really my plan, but am happy this has happened. My next three weeks are going to be very busy. SCBWI Summer Conference in LA is coming up and I am attending. On the week of the conference I want to be as free as possible  to take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself. Not having the pressure to creating a book that week will make that week easier. I may still write. but I won’t have to.

The conference is exciting. People attend for many reasons. 1) learn craft 2) meet agents and publishers 3) share their work 4) make new writer friends 5) see old friends 6) there are probably nearly as many respond as there are attendees. I go for several of these reasons, but mostly for 7) inspiration!

The last big conference I want to was a year and a half ago. It was the winter conference in NY. And I was sick. I had a bad cough and couldn’t really talk to people. Even without the human contact, I was inspired. I still think about things that were said during the keynotes. I still think about seeing some of the more established writers and hoping for a similar journey. I think about being surrounded by hundreds of writers and illustrators all dreaming of personal successes. Just a great, friendly atmosphere. I would look around and think about how I want to be a part of this. How I want this world to be familiar and comfortable.

I have some goals for this conference.

  1. meet the organizers
  2. introduce myself to agents
  3. find some kindred spirits
  4. enter the portfolio showcase
  5. share my 52 First Drafts journey
  6. get answers to a growing list of question I have been writing down
  7. be involved in every activity
  8. act outside of my comfort zone
  9. chat, chat, chat

I would really love to come home with a list of new connections that I actually stay in contact with. Wouldn’t that be something.

For now I will just keep prepping for an amazing weekend. Is anyone else going? Be sure to say hi!

Imposter Syndrome

I started this blog as a natural companion to my 52 First Drafts Project. It serves several purposes.

  1. It is a record of my journey.
  2. It reminds me how important this project is to my writing.
  3. It gives me yet another opportunity to write.
  4. It connects me to others on similar journeys.
  5. It’s a platform for what I have to say.
  6. It shows industry professionals I have an online presence.
  7. Accountability. It helps me continue my weekly writing.
  8. It’s something for my mom and dad to see.
  9. It helps me find new friends, possible critique partners, and confidants.

My goal was never to have a large readership, just to write. Of course the fantasy of a little fame and fortune did skirt around the edges of my mind; mostly as a ‘wouldn’t it be fun’ idea, not an ‘I really want this to happen’  idea.

Recently my blog became a featured blog on the front page of the SCBWI website. Go there; you’ll see it. It’s the first one. My name and blog title will be seen by everyone who goes there for the next two months.

This is what I wanted when I started this blog; a way for people to find it and follow me.

Awesome, right? Right? Right? So people are going to be reading what I write? Isn’t that why we write? Now everything I write will have to be good. So many possible eyes, such talented eyes, other writers! How was my last post? Terrible. Maybe I should take it down. But the one before it isn’t any better. I could ask them to remove my blog from the blogroll. Blah, blah, blah.

Yes, that is the monolog that when through my head.

Imposter Syndrome – The feeling that despite your accomplishments, you are a fraud and don’t deserve what you are achieving.

Lots of people experience it. I just read up on it. Lots of people. It can, in fact, be crippling to some people. Their thoughts become a self-fulfilling prophecy. They believe they are not deserving and soon they stop meeting the standards they are so capable of achieving.

So how long did this feeling last with me? About 20 minutes. Far from crippling.

I replaced those thoughts with these.

  1. This is an opportunity to step up my blog.
  2. Now I have more motivation to keep up with the blog.
  3. …Which will give me more motivation to keep writing my 52 first drafts.
  4. This is another opportunity to get my name and voice out there.
  5. I now feel more like I am a part of this community.
  6. What is the opposite of imposter syndrome? Thats what I was left with. I feel stronger about my worth and abilities. Heck, look at me, I’m a featured blogger at SCBWI!

Years ago I started a list. I titled it “Things I have Done.” I keep in in a folder on my computer desktop. This list includes everything I am proud of. It includes awards, certifications, places visited, successes both professionally and personally, relationships, things that make me feel good about myself going back as far as I can remember. I continually add to the list. In times of self doubt I can open the list and say, “Wow, look what I’ve done. That took a whole lot of work and I deserve to be where I am.” I’ll have to remember to add ‘featured on SCBWI blogroll’ to the list.

Oh, and let me not forget – Week 44 and I have now write 44 first drafts!

Now go out there and make your own list. Big things, little things, everything. Put it where you can see it. The next time something occurs that weakens your confidence, look at the list and remember how amazing you are.


Rewriting the Classics

Here I am at week 43. I was writing my 43rd story and was loving it. My characters were some of my best. It was funny. I was finding the voice I always want to write with, but often seems elusive. Plotting was coming naturally.

I was quite proud of my work. I had not planned or plotted a thing in advance, but the characters were taking me on the journey. I hardly had to think; the story just flowed out.

I could see where it was headed. I knew what needed to happen next, so I took a little break.  I had a snack, played with the dogs, cooled my feet in the pool, and thought about the story: How perfect it was. How well written it was. How it would be snapped up by the first editor who read it …

How I had just rewritten one of the most popular picture books in recent years. Drats! Now that I had some separation from it, I could see the similarities.

I was about to scrap it. How disappointing. It was one of my favorite things I had written in a while. Oh well, I would start something new. It wouldn’t be the first or last time this would happen.

But I couldn’t get it out of my head. Could it be saved?

Really there were only two things in common with the famous book, and one of those things hadn’t been written yet. The first thing was simply a common theme among many books. It was their combination that has unique and couldn’t be repeated.

Was I reading too much into it? Everything else was different: My beginning, my point of view, my characters, my new ending. I was safe. I could continue.

I asked my characters to try again. We took a few steps back and started moving. They had such a strong self they were able to take a new path flawlessly. I often hear other writers talk about how if you know your characters intimately, they will write their own stories. This was certainly true in this case.

The story is now very much its own.

I’m glad I kept with it. I’m glad I trusted what I had created to be unique. Now I have a story I will want to share.

Can we ever create a unique story? Is it possible to come up with a truly unseen idea? If we have an idea similar to something we are familiar with did we subconsciously steal it? I really don’t think I did in this case. Are we now just telling old stories in new ways? Is retelling an old idea bad? Where is the line between plagiarizing an idea, using an idea intentionally but putting your own twist on it, and independently coming up with a similar idea?