Sunday, January 5, 2020

Looking back, Stepping forward. Hello, 2020

I'm participating in a 12 Days of Christmas with author Julie Hedlund who runs the group PB 12x12, which inspires writers to write 12 new PB manuscripts a year. I've loved being a member of this supportive and resourceful group.

As part of the 12 Days of Christmas program, one the exercises Julie gave was to make a list of successes and surprises. I did this exercise for Day 1 and Day 2, but I'm only getting around to posting now because I'm still catching up with life and return to work after having family visit for the holidays and then taking a short trip to the Cotton Bowl with my husband, who is a Penn State fan. I'm just thankful the game was exciting and the stadium was indoors. :)  

Anyway,... I lumped my lists of surprises and successes into one, because my successes surprised me. Here are a few:
1.     I completed 13 new, solid picture book manuscripts, thanks to the monthly goals set for writing and revision in PB12x12, as well as being involved in 3 critique groups (2 online and 1 in-person) that kept me to a schedule, and inspiration that flowed from #PBChat on Twitter as led by @JustinRColon. I suppose I hated the idea of showing up each month empty-handed and missing out on the opportunity for suggestions and feedback from my writing friends.

       Writing 13 picture book manuscripts was such a surprise, especially because there were times that I felt my well of ideas had surely run dry. Nope! While I had set the goal for 12 manuscripts and had met that in early December after inspiration struck out-of-the-blue for a phrase I had scrawled in my notebook in August, the 13th manuscript came during revision as I felt daunted by finding ideas to fill 14 page-spreads in manuscript-#12. However, rising above what I thought were boundaries of what would "fit" in my manuscript opened me up to new ideas that led to its companion book. Hello, Manuscript-#13!  

      While I'm really tempted to use Manuscript-#13 as Manuscript #1 for 2020, I'm not going to do it. I'm keeping myself open to the first picture-book-idea-surprise for the new year. After all, I've got the fruits of Tara Lazar's #Storystorm to look forward to @TaraLazar.

2.     I had a R&R with an editor from a big publishing house in NY. Although her boss eventually ended up turning down the book, it was a great experience and I feel my manuscript and writing came out stronger from the experience. (And yes, it was frustrating, but I've long left those feelings behind.)

3.     I received compliments from published authors and an agent as I sent my current Work-In-Progress out for critique, along with strong urgings to finish it. This WIP is a middle grade novel that is close to my heart. But finish it I will! I've got Kathryn Purdie's workshop in June (@KathrynPurdie) to look forward to at WIFYR 2020 (Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers), where my plan is to revise the finished novel and bring it to full potential with submission-ready status. This will be my 4th year attending this conference/workshop, and I'm so looking forward to connecting with my writing friends and making new ones.

4.     Participated in 3 critique groups (2 online), and still managed to work on my own material while helping others improve theirs. Participating in three groups seemed daunting, but perhaps being an empty-nester has helped free up more time than I had in the past.

5.     I read hundreds of picture books and at least a dozen middle grade novels, along with a few young adult and adult ones (hello, Kate Morton, favorite author of The Lake House and Nicola Yoon who debuted in 2016 with Everything Everything, and then followed that one up with The Sun is Also a Star). 

6.     Attended a few conferences, like SCBWI's mid-year meeting in LA because I love visiting Cali and love working on the craft of children's writing even more, as well as Carol Lynch Williams' retreat for writers in March, and Picture Book Summit in October.

7.   I won marvelous critiques of 2 different picture book manuscripts through different opportunities from Twitter events. One was from author Diana Murray (@DianaMWrites) through @BrianGehrlein and his Picture Book Spotlight blog.  The other was from @DawnProchovnic via a nomination from Rebecca Gomez (@GomezWrites) that came out of @JustinRColon's #PBChat mentorship program. 

8.     Made progress on physical therapy with the goal of avoiding back surgery, which was advised. Toward that end, I swam 35 miles, walked 240 miles on the treadmill, and did numerous "exercises" over the course of the year (although most of that occurred in the last six-ish months when I started physical therapy). As I look at where I've come and how I'm feeling, I hoping I've been successful! Time will tell as I move through springtime in the new year.

I'll leave it there for my surprises and successes of 2019.  Cheers to finding your own in 2020!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I love all this! Super congrats on so much progress, I have a feeling 2020 will be you year 🤞
    Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez


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