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Enthusiastic Hobbyist or Dedicated Writer:
Which One Are You?
"Musings" - October 2006
by Margot Finke
There are two types of children's writers, and only one of those mentioned in the title will become published. Having a writing hobby is a great thing. What with the stress of managing work, home, kids and husband, it is wonderful to have a hobby that allows you to relax, and do something creative just for yourself -- like writing a children's book.
Then there's the driven, dedicated writer. A clock-watcher for sure: someone who never has a moment to spare for hobbies. This is a person whose dust bunnies have names. . . .The kids in these families know how to do laundry and hustle up a quick meal. Spouses know when to back off, and when a back rub and a gallon of coffee is crucial.
Writing is something you do when you have the time. Writing is something you make time for. You don't have the money to go to a yearly writing conference. You scrimp on make-up, haunt garage sales, are on a first name basis with most of the Craig's List staff -- YEA! You've saved the money for that writing conference. You are thrilled that your family and friends love all your stories -- especially the kids.
You go online, join several children's writing groups, become a critique group member, and begin to learn about writing. You write a terrific picture book over a weekend and send it off to a publisher first thing Monday morning. Everyone tells you it's a winner. You spend time reading in the library and at bookstores - that is between your job, chauffeuring kids to sports, music lessons, the dentist . . . Your schedule becomes tighter: there is no time for writing. Your schedule becomes tighter, so you get up at 4 am to squeeze in two hours of uninterrupted writing. Coffee saves your life! You write when inspiration hits. Why bother when the muse is out? You write: even when you have the flu. You made notes about a new plot idea when your labor pains were almost three minutes apart. Ooooo! Ahaaaaaa! You love to chat about what you'll do, “When I get published. . .” You take an online writing class, because it's a long time since you were at school and studied English. You don't feel the need of a writing class. That's what editors are paid for, right? A personal rejection, with some great suggestions, has you humming all day. The editor makes suggestions and would like to look at your rewrite. You have a wonderful imagination going for you. Kids just love your stories, so they must be good. You mull over what the editor wrote, and then seek feedback from your critique partners. A rewrite is in the works! That first rejection letter was a real bummer. Then a second, third, and fourth arrived. What is wrong with these people? You write and write. Then, you set the manuscript aside several times, hoping time will make those small glitches and blind spots jump out at you. It does.
You are devastated. You will never write another word. Your husband and kids try to be sympathetic -- but their life goes on. Idiots!
The editor loves what you have re-written, however, a few more tweaks are requested.
You have a good feeling about your chances of scoring a contract. All those books you read, the conferences you attended, your critique group's feedback, plus the publisher research you did, is about to pay off -- maybe.
Either way, you have another new plot and characters jostling for attention in your brain. You can't wait to give them your full attention.
Have you decided?
Do you fit the profile on the left or the one on the right?
Old wisdom says that everyone has a unique talent, and each one of us has to discover that gift within ourselves, and where it leads us.
Don't despair. If writing stays your hobby that's great. However, keep looking. Somewhere there's that special something that will fire your passion and fulfill your dreams.
HAPPY WRITING MATES!
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