With all the awards and announcements of shortlists and winners in the last few months I am genuinely thrilled to celebrate with my author colleagues. I like to shout their success through social media and scatter smiley emoticons liberally. But sometimes the glare of my computer screen shines a spotlight on an area of my insecurity. Like when I read a book that really touches my heart or tickles my funny bone or is a pure delight and I am tempted to compare myself. “Give up now” I think, “You’ll never be that good.”
A writer’s life has plenty of opportunities for insecurity – rejection letters, or the great yawning void of slush piles, and critiques – either personally, in workshops or formally via reviews to name a few.
One place that I find a source of encouragement for the insecure or difficult days is in company of other children’s book creators – either in person or online. Blog posts and articles in industry magazines have the potential to inspire. The amazing, award winning Bill Condon shared in a Buzz Words article (Sticking to my Guns in issue 1.9.2015) that it took four years between the publication of his first book and the acceptance of his second. This spoke to where I was at – languishing in the void between first and next publication!
The Just Write for Kids group is a constant source of encouragement and motivation, and one of the wisest things I found there recently was a quote by Henry Van Dyke, mentioned by Di Bates:
“Use what talents you possess. The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang the best.”
So I will push on despite discouragement, push past the tendency to compare myself to others, because I have something to contribute to the symphony of words (if only a ‘bit part’) to make it a richer song. And I know you do too.