As many of my quilting friends know, I’ve been working very hard on developing my writing skills. Over the past few years, I’ve taken classes via writers.com, the Alexandra Writing Center in Calgary and have kept my eye on any and all calls for submission.
Writers.com classes have helped me tremendously. I’ve met some very good instructors, some lovely and smart classmates and have learned a ton. Having a lesson per week – reading, writing and homework – is a great way to keep moving forward. The deadlines imposed on such a working structure is, for me, a very, very good thing.
A stumbling block along the writing road, has been trying to figure out which style or format of writing is for me. Can I write a good essay? Maybe non-fiction? Can I develop great, alive characters in fictional stories? Although I’ve taken classes in many different genres, I’m still trying to figure this out.
But, there’s one thing I know for sure. My greatest desire has always been to write stories for children. I want to write stories with heart…stories that will stay with the reader and mean something special. Particularly, I’d love to write stories that have a quilt as the underlying theme. That’s what I’m striving to do. I’ve been working on one particular story for more than a year now. I’ve learned that editing in the children’s picture book format is seemingly endless. One revision after another. Send out my manuscript for critique…end up with suggestions to move in an entirely different direction. My story today is much, much different than it was to begin with.
After many edits and countless re-writes, I submitted my story to a children’s picture book editor in the U.S. After two or three months, an email pops into my inbox from said editor and her review was harsh! I was a little shocked. She wrote in part, “I’m sorry to say this story does not work for me at all”. She pointed out all the things I had done wrong. Thoughts of, “obviously, I’m not good enough to be doing this” raced through my mind. “Why am I wasting my time?” “I stink!”
But later in the day, I re-read the editor’s comments a second and a third time. I printed off the email. The black cloud of doubt began to lift. I started to understand. The last line of her email read, “You have a nice idea here but I think it needs more work”. That statement began to resonate. The editor had taken the time to read my story. She had taken the time to send me her real, unvarnished comments. There was no sugar-coating here; just her professional opinions on how I could improve my work. Once that notion sunk into my brain, the doubt I had been feeling began to disperse. I felt something else entirely. Something undeniably joyous. I was inspired to keep working.
Taking the editor’s comments to heart, I’ve revised my story yet again. It’s better than it was. I now know that rejection can mean motivation and it can bring inspiration. It’s all how you look at it.
When I get my first book contract from a publisher, I will know who to thank.
Take care. Kim