I’ve always considered writing a somewhat lonely business. Not the actual writing part. When a story is coming together, when the words are flowing, I’m in the zone. I can sit by myself and happily bang away on the keyboard for hours. Writing, editing, rewriting, polishing that gem until it’s as perfect and shiny as I can make it.
But once it’s finished, once I can no longer tweak it without over-tweaking it, then the waiting begins. Waiting for someone to read it, waiting for feedback, waiting for some nugget of recognition. Because to get that nugget, you have to take a risk. You have to tug on someone’s coattail and say, “Hey lady!” or “Hey Mister! Will you take time out of your already busy life and sit down and read this and then tell me what you think?”
Taking risks are scary and I’m not all about the bravery. What if the person I ask says, “No.”? Or what if he or she says “yes” and then tells me my story has more problems than an algebra test? But what if I’m sitting on the greatest children’s story the world has ever known and I’m too chicken to ask for opinions. It was time to break out of the scaredy-bubble.
I went on Facebook and started searching for Children’s Book groups. To my surprise, there were about a billion of them! Groups to promote your books, groups for writers, groups for illustrators, groups for writers and illustrators and even groups where people are willing to swap manuscripts for critiquing. So I started joining and, like the title says, I found a whole new world!
In Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, I found there are other writers out there who have questions, who aren’t 100% sure what they’re doing, who need feedback, who want the opinions of others and who are looking for support. I should always know that when I feel like I’m the only one, there are probably thousands, millions!, of other people just as unique as I am.
I feel like I struck gold when I came across KIDLIT 411 Manuscript Swap. I’ve already traded manuscripts with a few of other writers and I’ve received some great feedback … thorough, in-depth, constructive input. Stuff I can really use, and that is well worth the risk of asking, “Hey, will you tell me what you think?”
I’m so glad I took this step. I don’t know what I was thinking trying to do this writing thing all on my own. It’s only been a couple of days, but having a connection to other writers feels like a newly opened door. At someone’s suggestion, I even joined the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and am excited about participating in their events.
I must sound like a giddy little school girl, but I’ve realized writing felt like a lonely business because I made it one; and I’m relieved that I’m not too set in my ways to make a change for the better.