Monday, November 16, 2009

A room of one's own

I had the great good fortune this weekend to be part of a panel discussion for new authors at our regional SCBWI annual conference. For those of you who don't know, SCBWI stands for Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. It's a huge, wonderfully supportive organization. Anyway, for the first time ever, I was on the other side of the table, so to speak. I was a published author and a speaker! The four of us on the panel--Sydney Salter, Jean Reagan, Bree Despain, and myself all talked about getting that first contract, how life was different now, ect. Then we were asked questions by the audience. Do we outline? How did we get an agent? What is our "writing process?" And then the BIG QUESTION: what one piece of advice would we give a writer trying to get published. Everyone had good answers, but I want to share with you mine. Because, after all, this is my blog!
So here was my answer: no one will take you seriously as a writer until you do! If you're serious about wanting to get published, you have to take what you're doing seriously. And what does that mean? I think for women particularly, it means establishing firm boundaries. This is my space and my time to write. That may mean you carve out a nook in your house where you write undisturbed. Maybe you're not lucky enough to have an actual room of your own--I didn't until the kids moved out. But remember, John Grisham wrote his first couple of books, including The Firm in a tiny closet. And Stephan King wrote his first several books at a child's desk in their laundry room! If you can't carve out a space in your house (and don't write at the dining room table when everyone's home!), take your laptop or your notepad and go to your neighborhood bookstore, coffee shop, laudromat, or library. Someplace where you can write uninterrupted, even if it's just for one hour a day. Setting boundaries also means valuing and respecting your creative energy. Why waste it on being the only one in your household responsible for house cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, and cooking? Now bless their hearts, it is hard for others to see us as hard at work when we're staring off into space or at our computer screen. But damnit, we are hard at work! And no one is going to appreciate that until you do.

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