I attended SCBWI Western Washington's Great Critique last night, and I'm so glad I went! Lately I've been feeling really discouraged about my seemingly hopeless pursuit of publishing a children's picture book in a dying market. I broke down in tears last weekend feeling so overwhelmed by the unlikely odds that some nobody like me can ever get published. With only a few rejections under my belt, I know I need to get a thicker skin if I want to make it in this business. But its the breaking in that seems the most insurmountable to me at this point. If I want to get published I need an agent to get my work into the right and tightly guarded hands, and if I want an agent I need to be published first. I feel like I'm banging my head against wall after wall. Thus the weekend breakdown. When I set out on this journey I didn't fully realize just how much of an emotional roller coaster the creative process can be. For me and my boyfriend who has to deal with the unexpected bouts of depression (sorry Tim!).
That is why I am so thankful for the SCBWI community. Being around fellow writers who are struggling and succeeding and can commiserate and enlighten, is just the greatest joy. Every time I go to a meeting or spend time with a critique group or attend a class, I am reenergized and I remember the passion that got me excited to write for children in the first place.
Last night I turned in one of my versions of Kiwi & Chirp (I have probably 10 different ones now!) for critique. And again my face burns hot and my heart beats fast any time my work is read aloud. But all the enthusiasm and support and guidance is so welcome and so appreciated. Sometimes you just need fresh eyes to go over a work that has become blurred to you. It allows you to breathe a little, and take some of the burden off of you making your work so perfect, while someone else takes a stab at it. So while a peaceful snow fell outside our classroom window, I finally made (some) peace with my own work by letting others in. It was a beautiful thing and I feel grateful for having seized the opportunity, even if it would have been easier to stay at home and wallow away in misery and doubt. Attending the Great Critique was much more fun! So I'll keep writing, keep pushing forward, and keep finding inspiration and positivity wherever I can get it.
Next stop: SCBWI Western WA Conference in April