Friday, December 16, 2011

Where to go? Professionally, that is.

Writing... Writing, and writing, and writing... That seems to be what's in my heart. It's all I can think about, it's all I want to do in my spare time. I don't want to read on how to write. I don't want to worry about the word count or if it sounds like someone else's story.

There's only a few hundred problems with all of that.

I am continuously hearing that in order to be a good writer, you have to be a good reader. Well, kudos to me, because I am an excellent reader! However, that "spare time" I referred to earlier? Yeah... That is treasured, rare, and cannot be split into a few areas. I'M A MOTHER! And not like a mother who has kids in school for eight hours a day. No, no, my kids are almost 5 and 3. I can barely pee by myself! So, I'd rather use that delicate, sweet, beautiful hour that they take their naps, on writing (trust me, the laundry and dishes pile up around here so often, I think my husband is going to fire me!).

But, aside from THAT worry, I believe the next step for me to take is to figure out my target audience. Who the heck am I writing for?? I love picture books. The ideas come easy to me, but sometimes I feel like I can't compare. Other writers that I know? Picture Books just flow out of them. They're smooth, elegant, and wonderful. My attempts? Well, to be honest, they just don't... Fit.

I do not take offense! But it is frustrating at times because my brain says that the PB world is where I belong. It's logical, relevant, and fun! But my heart seems to write differently. I know that it simply comes down to one thing...


I am terrified of writing a chapter book or novel. Why? Well, getting rejected after you've put time and effort into less than 800 words is painful enough. I absolutely cannot imagine how gut wrenching the rejection of a 10,000+ word manuscript would feel. Plus, that seems like a lot of time to invest and we've already discussed how little of that I have.

Sooooo... Here's the part where my writer (and even non-writer) friends tell me that I'm a nerd. BUT keep in mind, I am aware of this. I just need clarification on where I'm supposed to go! Is it possible for someone to go ahead and make that decision for me?

The kids are asleep now. Get back to me when you've decided what I should do with my professional life. I'd really rather spend my time writing... Something.


  1. Your post really resonated with me! I think you should just go for it (while the kids are asleep)! Anne Lamott wrote something along the lines of writing like your mom isn't going to read and critique it. I love that, because for me, my best work is when I write from the heart, not worrying who or what is going to read it. Good luck! I would love to hear what you decide to do! KIT:

  2. I think that's it, Bethany. JUST WRITE. And when you write something so magical you just HAVE to share it.. do! Don't write TO submit... just write. (Of course i have to eat my own words). I think it's nuts trying to right for kids while raising them (to borrow from Tara Lazar) but we are doing it! Even if it's not all beautiful, polished, or publishable- its ours. And it gives our brains GOOD practice and by the time we are actually FREE to write something it will already have a good groove. :) If writing is your freedom, your escape, your re-charge (as it is mine) then just do it!

  3. Keep writing, Bethany, and it will become clear! Thanks for sharing...

  4. Keep writing! And don't compare yourself to published writers. It's all a learning curve.

    May I suggest the online/homestudy/work at your own pace course in picture book writing which helped me enormously (and has application to all writing) Just Write for Kids?

    It, and the Children's Book Hub, have helped me to grow so much as a writer.

    P.S. I'm Beth on the Children's Book Hub facebook group.

  5. I've often thought the very same thing about writing a novel. It's the same fear that's held me back. Like, after all that work it could (and probably would) get rejected? Hard to fathom.

    And yet, I have some picture books that I've revised so many times that it's almost taken on those kind of proportions.

    Your kids are still so young. My youngest just went into kindergarten this year and that has completely changed my writing life! Just keep writing and be forgiving with yourself, whatever you write. It might not seem like it now, but the time will come when you WILL have more time to worry about all the rest of it - publication, genres, etc.

  6. Wow, so glad I read this. I know what you mean about a novel. Once you've been writing little stories, you can't imagine ever having more time to write something longer, but you know what you just start with a page. I have put my MG plans on hold and I'm loving poetry right now. Poems come the easiest and they are the quickest. Picture Books take the longest for how long you have to put them away, so they are a busy parents' dream. Just write a draft forget about it a while. I have just come out of the 3 and 5 stage, my eldest is 6 and at school every day. It makes a big difference and the 3 and a half year old has matured so much she can actually play for five minutes by herself. Hang in there and like Julie said be forgiving with yourself.

  7. You are not alone. Sometimes, it's difficult for me to read picture books from the library with my toddler's grabby hands (ah, the horror of ripped pages). I caught myself telling Hubby the other day, I didn't want to waste nap time by taking a shower. I find through each development stage I'm changing my schedule. I can't say I'm always productive as a writer as a result. This year, I took a break from a larger goal to complete my memoir and worked on essays and the picture book craft. It's been a wonderful year. Now, I'm looking at 2012 goals and that larger project will be folded back into the mix. I needed my break to refresh.

  8. Bethany! So glad to have "met" you and I am now following you.

    I struggle with everything you mentioned in your (awesome) post above. We are moms first which means we have lots of responsibilities to attend to BEFORE writing. The hardest part is not getting consumed in this world because it can be so overwhelming at times. baby steps is how I look at it. Just keep writing, girl!