Last weekend I got a dose of inspiration when I attended the L.A. Writer’s Days. The two regional advisors, Sarah Laurenson and Lee Wind, put together an exceptional group of presenters. And I got to meet fellow blogger Tricia O’Brien. Bonus! I’m so glad I got to go.
One of my favorite Santa Barbara writers, Lee Wardlaw, talked about the fact that her most recent book, Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku, was rejected by seven editors over three years. That book, which my daughter proudly owns, is now in its fourth printing and has won scads of awards including the 2012 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award and the 2011 SLJ Best Books of the Year. Lee said something that resonated with me:
“I’m thankful for all those rejections. Because those editors wouldn’t have loved it enough to see it through acquisition meetings, marketing, finding the right illustrator… If it hadn’t been rejected, it wouldn’t have become the book that it is.”
|Photo of Stacey, Michael & Sara by Rita Crayon Huang|
Agent Michael Bourret spoke on a panel with editor Stacey Barney (Putnam/Penguin) and debut author Sara Wilson Etienne. The synergy between the three of them was beautiful to witness and I kid you not — as soon as their panel finished talking, all of Sara’s books were gone within a matter of minutes. They were that good.
I could write several posts just based on the things they talked about, but here’s one thing that really stuck with me. Sara wrote the first draft of her book, Harbinger, ten years ago. There was no dialogue, only one character and the entire novel was about 90 pages long. She didn’t know what to do with it so she put it away for a few years. She worked on it some more, took it to an SCBWI conference and got good feedback on it from an editor there. She worked on it for almost two more years before sending it to Michael Bourret. And then, when he took it on, they revised it together for another year.
I can’t even begin to tell you how much this encouraged me. I am a SLOW writer. I get impatient with myself, frustrated because I can’t whip out a novel in six months, let alone in the month of November. Some edits are easy. Others have to go round my brain for a while before they solidify. Knowing that there are other slow pokes like me who take their time and still manage to make their debut and make it big, was incredibly inspiring.
People ask me all the time if I think it’s worth the money to go to a conference. When you come away inspired to keep at it, excited to lock yourself away and sit in front of a glowing screen, I’d say it’s definitely worth it.