Tag Archives: encouragement

The Giant Drop

Many times, I’ve been told the writing game is an emotional roller coaster ride. Ups, downs, hill climbs, racing downhill, loop-the-loops… From my experiences, I’m more inclined to match it to The Giant Drop; one of Dreamworld’s ‘Big 9 Thrill Rides’, particularly the vulnerability of submitting manuscripts to publishers.

Note: If The Giant Drop is unfamiliar to you, please click here. 🙂

Stage One: Emotional preparation AKA plucking up courage
Six months in the making and my story is complete. I’ve had it professionally edited and it shapes up really well. I’ve researched a list of publishers accepting manuscripts and cross-checked that my story meets their submission criteria. I’m pumped, confident, ready-to-go. I even get my friends and family involved in the pre-ride excitement. This book is going to be the next best-seller. Hurry! Let’s get on the ride!

I submit.

Stage two: The waiting line
All pepped and ready, I approach the line-up. Ugh… The long, tiring, mood-busting wait. Honestly, do these hundreds and hundreds of people all want to be published authors, too? Hopefully, my hidden gem will pop out of the pile and the editors will call me to the front of the line. Quick! I’d better refresh my email account. Inbox = 0.

Oh…

The wait continues.

Stage three: The lift
After three (sometimes more) agonising months of waiting, I finally arrive at the front of the line. The publisher’s email has arrived (this example is a fortunate occasion where I’ve actually received a response).
I stare at the unopened message that blinds me with its bold font and confronting subject line; ‘Re: Your manuscript submission’. My finger hovers over the mouse. Do I really want to open this?
The bars come down over my shoulders and across my lap. I’m bolted in and the rise begins. There’s no turning back now. I feel sick, my breathing is rapid. If I close my eyes, will that make it easier to deal with? As I look down at how far I’ve travelled, slight confidence hits. I really am excited by this. I can do it. It’s going to be okay.

The ride locks in place and I anticipate its release.

Click.

Stage four: The drop
My stomach slams into my throat and it’s difficult to catch my breath. I want to scream, but can only manage a gasping shriek. ‘Thank you for your manuscript. Each year, we receive hundreds of submissions, but are only able to publish a select few. Unfortunately…’

When am I going to stop falling? Who can I blame for encouraging me to endure this horrid feeling? I’m doomed. Going on this ride was a BAD decision. How foolish must I be to think this would end well?

Never again!

Stage five:
The recovery

The ride pulls up and comes to a ‘gentle’ stop. Despite my doubts, I survived, and although I’m left with a slight feeling of nausea, I feel accomplished. I challenged myself and I was brave. Now, I’m left with no regrets. Although the drop was scary, it’s shown me I can do it, and next time, I’ll have a more experienced approach.

The bars are lifted and I feel free and a little more confident. I did it! I am okay. After a few deep breaths (and maybe a nice, warm bubble bath and some ‘me’ time), I’m ready to go again.

And, so, it begins once more…

Q: If you were to compare your writing journey to an amusement ride, which would you choose?
Q: Which ‘stage’ of the ride are you on right now?

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Filed under Renee Price, Writing Tips

A Happy Place

What brought you to writing? Has it been a life-long dream to see your stories in print? Is it a fresh career change? A creative path you’ve been encouraged to follow?

Since a young age, I’ve had the desire to create. From stories to songs, poems to plays, writing was my escape; my ‘happy place’. 🙂

As an adult, my escape became a little distant. Life got in the way – I’m sure we can all relate. My love for writing remained, but ideas lacked, and creating was rarely executed. I didn’t realise how much this affected me, until after the birth of my first child.

Parenthood is certainly an eye-opener, and in more ways than one! You can tell yourself you’re prepared, and in some respect, this is possible, but the perceived emotional and physical readiness falls about fifty football fields short of the reality that tiny bundle of joy brings.

I’m not going to lie, I struggled. Whether it was the delayed recovery from childbirth, the additional physical needs my son required, or simply the loss of sleep I once thought I could survive without, things quickly mounted, and I wasn’t coping.

After several visits to a counsellor, I began finding myself again, and enjoying my little one, rather than living in fear. At night, I would sit in a rocking chair in his room, telling him stories and singing songs, until he fell asleep. It brought peace to us both.

One night, I remember becoming overwhelmed with emotion. The bond we shared and the effect of my words, voice and embrace, brought immeasurable comfort. This was now my happy place.

That night, I started writing again. The piece was titled, One of a Kind. It reflected my thoughts on difference and uniqueness, and that if we accept ourselves and all our quirky traits, we can find true contentment. I wrote this piece for me, but more importantly, I wrote it for my son.

And I haven’t looked back.

Image for JWFK Aug blog postRenee x
#JustWriteForKidsOZ

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Filed under Renee Price

The rise and rise of Shelly Unwin – newly signed author – Part 1

I first met Shelly Unwin at a CBCA event a few years ago, and gradually got to know her as we bumped into each other at regular meetings and events.  She is warm, open and encouraging with an English accent I could listen to all day. I’ve heard Shelly talk about a manuscript that came ‘so close’ to being picked up, only to be let down; I’ve thrown around ideas with her about a young adult novel; I’ve chatted with her at book launches celebrating colleagues’ success when it has seemed to allude her. And now here she is having signed the Holy Grail – a contract for 5 picture books, with a major publisher, to be released as a package hopefully next year. It is such a pleasure to be able to now celebrate her achievements and hear her story. There is so much in Shelly’s story to offer wisdom and hope for those of us who write for kids. I’ve highlighted some themes to pick up on at a later date.

This is the first of a few installments  – so stay tuned…                           shelly unwin jwfk

Described as a concept book, I know you contractually can’t tell us much about it – what can you tell us about it and when did the idea come to you? Hum, what can I tell you? The series is aimed at 1-5 year olds and has a strong education focus, wrapped inside a warm and cuddly bedtime story. Its subject matter is one that all kids fixate on in these early years and beyond. It has minimal text, between 120-150 words per book, leaving room for some really wonderful illustrations. The narrative speaks directly to the child and is written in verse.

Not unusually for us creative types, the idea hit me in the night. I sat bolt upright in a hot sweat, reached over to wake my husband up and said “Oh My God! I’ve got it!” I have been writing seriously for the last three and a half years. I’ve been on a stack of courses, and written lots of lovely ‘quiet’ stories, and I recognized immediately that what I had stumbled upon was not a quiet story. It was the illusive ‘commercial’ story that we are all hoping to write. Needless to say I couldn’t go back to sleep.

How long did it take you to write it?

I wrote the first one in a couple of hours. It wanted to be written and flew from my subconscious. Then it went through the critiquing and re-writing process.

Who did you discuss it with or get advice from?

Firstly my husband, which is unusual, I normally don’t mention my ideas to him until they have evolved fully. His excitement mirrored mine, which was very encouraging. Then I took it to my critique group. I wanted to see if they thought it was as commercial an idea as I thought it was. I also wanted to check that they didn’t know of any similar books out there. I’d done internet research and couldn’t find anything – the idea seems so obvious it was crazy that it hadn’t been done already. But I guess every so often a new gem of an idea emerges and someone gets to grab it with both hands and run with it. If I’d had the same idea three years earlier though, my execution wouldn’t have been anywhere near where it was when this idea formed. I had taken time to learn the craft and really understand how to structure a picture book and really speak to the child. So I was in a prime position to take the idea and write it well.

How did you decide it was ready to take to a publisher/agent?

I wrote the first draft on the 19th October and I was booked in for an editor consultation at the Sutherland Shire Writing Festival on the 1st November, so I worked to the deadline. But more than that I’d also realized fairly quickly that I had stumbled across a series possibility, so I had written the first drafts of all five books and had one of them fairly well polished by the 1st of November. The editor I met with was very excited by the idea and asked for me to send two of the manuscripts through to her. I had also submitted one manuscript by email to an editor I had met with at the SCBWI conference that I felt may be interested.

You can find Shelly Unwin on her website: http://shellyunwin.com and on facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ShellyUnwinAuthorPage

 

 

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Filed under Author Interviews, Debra Tidball

You have the right to see your words in print! STEP ONE

  1. Tell EVERYBODY

And I mean, EVERYBODY you plan to create a picture book. As soon as you offer your thoughts to the universe, your family and the lady next door, even the milkman, well, all of a sudden you are held accountable. Years ago, I mentioned I was passionate about the idea of creating a children’s book. One of the fathers at the Kindergarten, a professor at the local university, was dropping off his son. He heard, was interested, and even today – 15 years later, if I bump into him – he asks, ‘How is the book going?’ I know I will bump into him, and I know I have to have an answer…

The transparency will afford you a couple of extra bonuses. You are acting like a writer. You are talking like a writer. Now everyone will think you ARE a writer. This reinforcement is invaluable to your self esteem. You now approach this with the mindset that any professional would – like it is a business.

It is often said writers can’t make a living out of creating children’s picture books. I have to admit, I have a while to go before I am liberated from the incredible support of my husband. Still, I believe if you approach this as a business, say as a consultant, you will make this happen. If you work out the number of hours you are willing and able to work on your writing in a week, check out the rates for freelance writers on Seek (or equivalent jobs market information) and you determine how much it costs you to be a writer (overheads, insurance, workers compensation etc) then you have all the information you need to determine your hourly rate.

Too much? Okay, so you might only be approaching your writing from the perspective of a person with an interest in which you are passionate about? Well, shout about that as well! It is incredibly infectious to be in the same space as someone who has a passion!

Regardless, of your ambition, sharing is inviting caring! You will be amazed at the energy you garner from receiving all of this extra support and encouragement.

x Have fun!

 

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Filed under Emma Mactaggart, Writing Tips