Frustrated, yet determined, I continued to send my manuscripts out to agents and publishers. I was not about to give up on my dream of having my children’s story published.
While I was waiting, I continued to study and practice my writing craft. I started to attend local writing conferences where I could met other writers, most had been published, but were willing to share the secrets to their success. Persistence was their number one tip. I also enrolled in children’s writing workshops to learn more about the genre and how I could make my story stronger and more marketable. The one thing that really helped me was joining a local children’s writing critique book.
Now don’t get me wrong, I was a nervous as a cat in a dog park. Here I was in a room full of children’s writers. I was sitting in that deafening silence again. I watched as they read my story, sometimes smiling and sometimes nodding. Most were busily writing notes in the margins. My heart was racing so fast, I thought it would jump right out of my chest.
The critiques were positive for the most part. Most of the group liked the story and said that I had nailed the age group for which I was writing. They found some inconsistencies and made some suggestions for improving my story and moving the action along. Their thoughtful critiques helped me to make my story better and stronger. I have found that most writers want to help you and want to share in your successes.
While this critique group was one of the most difficult experiences for me, it was also one of the most helpful. I learned how to let go of my writing, and how to handle criticism from my peers. You can pick and choose from their suggestions and decide what to learn from and apply to your story and to ignore those pieces of information that you are not comfortable using. It is after all your story.
Writing needs to be shared and it is extremely unnerving for us writers to put our writing out there, but isn’t that why we write? We want children or adults to read our writing.
This week I challenge you to share one piece of writing with someone and ask for his or her feedback. You might be pleasantly surprised!