Earlier this week, I met a friend and colleague half-way between our homes which are two hours apart. We went to the town library and opened laptops and folders. We’d both brought manuscripts that weren’t working. Time flew by as we read each other’s work and shared reactions and potential solutions.
It worked a treat. It’s amazing what another pair of eyes can make obvious. I’ve come home with new energy for the three manuscripts I was completely stuck on. I’m completely rewriting two picture book texts and feeling really good about their direction. I’ve also regained some confidence in another longer story and can’t wait to get back to it. Which I must do. Now.
I’ve been doing quite a few revisions lately. Some are redrafting, the natural progression of a manuscript and others are following submissions and are in response to editor feedback.
These latter are both easier and more difficult than simple (hah!) redrafting. In redrafting, the story is still finding its shape/tone/voice etc. I might or might not have a market in mind. But in working with an editor in either reworking or ‘tweaking’ a ms, there’s the feeling of getting closer to a sale, despite the knowledge that nothing is certain.
The way I see it, even if the ms doesn’t eventually sell there, it has a good chance of being better than it was before the revisions. So I shouldn’t feel extra anxiety in sending the reworked/tweaked ms. But it doesn’t seem to work that way. It’s like jumping from beam to beam…no drama if they are within centimetres of the ground, but much more anxiety-provoking if the beams are metres high. Same beams, different heights. It’s not about logic.
So, one of the ms I’d been working on for a while with an editor got a ‘sorry, but no sale’ last week. Part of me understands the reasons, and accepts that rejection is part of the game. But there’s another part of me that really would like, even if only for a really short time, gnash, wail and otherwise scream and shout. Don’t want to shout at anyone, just want to shout. I reckon it’s a bit like being a spectator at a 0:0 soccer game. The game goes back and forth, back and forth for so long and then ends with no score. There’s all this emotion that’s had no pressure release.
I’ve realised that for me it’s important to acknowledge and vent that frustration before moving on. So I do stomp around my office a bit, grind and gnash before moving on.
Kinder on the family too.
Yesterday, there was a SCBWI Victoria gathering on the Peninsula at Mornington. We aim to provide one regional event each year to give regional members a break. It’s easy for us inner city dwellers to get to things – much more difficult for those living outside the city. And really, it’s a great excuse to leave the city. It was a lovely sunny Autumn day. And the attendance numbers confirmed that others felt much the same way.
Our program usually involves three speakers – one external and two drawn from our membership. Yesterday our speakers were Graham Davey from the CBCA (Vic) and YABBA, author Krista Bell and bookseller Meredith Horton. We factor in a long afternoon tea to facilitate casual networking and general catching up.
The audience comprised members and non-members, from experienced creators to those starting out. We were able to use a meeting room at the Mornington Library, perfect for our needs. It was a fun gathering. Each speaker gave us their perspective on the children’s book industry, sharing experience and providing insight. We overcatered afternoon tea, but heck it’s a long drive home.
I turned into my driveway to find that my new birthday letterbox is now in position and ready to accept mail. It’s bright and shiny and big enough for A4 envelopes. The fence looks shabbier than ever, but the letterbox is grand. All it needs now is some mail…
Today saw the announcement of the long, and then 4 hours later, the short list for the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book Awards. Nervous times, when you know your book has been entered. Disappointment, no matter how you’d steeled yourself, when your book is not there.
It’s a big job, judging these awards. Judges from each state read hundreds of books before meeting to agree on the long and short lists, and the winners. It’s always interesting to see the lists (especially so if there’s a chance your book will be on it) to see what, in the view of the judges, is the cream of the year’s crop.
What’s also guaranteed is that not everyone will agree on the books chosen. Books I would have sworn would be on the short list, aren’t. And other books I’d been lukewarm about, are there. But also on the list are books I loved. I guess that’s why there are so many books around. Different readers will love different books. No surprises there.
Congratulations to all the listees. For those whose books are on the short list, may the wait until August seem short. For those whose books aren’t, it’s time to get back to work.
Note: check here for details of the Notable and Short Lists