True confessions. I started and restarted this blog post many, many, many times (and ate a lot of Christmas cookies in the process).
Should I offer practical advice, like whether to send submissions over the holidays? (The answer: Always send your work when ready. Agents–if they aren’t closed to submissions–often try to make inroads on their overflowing inboxes during the holiday slowdown.)
Should I provide tips on de-stressing while subbing over the holidays? (I offered such advice in last year’s post.)
Or should I just share what’s on my heart? Hmmmmm….
Here’s the thing: My family has a long-standing holiday tradition of trading newsy Christmas letters with more than a hundred family and friends scattered across the globe. Growing up in a military family, and then marrying into the military, I have friends, even in the age of Facebook, with whom I only touch base at the holidays.
So this is the time of year I take stock as I draft up a little paragraph about each family member and what they’ve been up to for 2018.
And here’s the hard truth about this year. After selling two books last year–one in a competitive situation–I have nothing new to announce. My second book doesn’t yet have a publication date, and the deal hasn’t been announced yet. Though I finished one picture book this year and started another, I don’t have anything new under contract (yet! There’s still hope.). I revised my first graphic novel for a second time this year, hoping it was nearly “ready” but just got another round of revisions to work on.
So, I’m staring at the blinking cursor on my screen trying to figure out what to write about in that darned family newsletter.
But then I’m reminded that all we can control as creators in this crazy industry is the work. (Thanks to Liz Gilbert and Big Magic for that reminder.) All we can control are the craft and discipline of putting words on the page and the joy we feel while doing it. We can control the steady movement of our brushes on the canvas and the exhilaration of doing something we were meant to do.
As for me, I’ve felt a lot of joy this year. I’m proud of the picture book I finished, knowing it is some of my best work. I’m thrilled to be honing my craft and tackling something new with the graphic novel. I’m so enchanted with the ideas behind the picture book I’m writing at the moment, that I often lose track of time. Each and every minute has been worth it, even if it’s not something you can summarize in a newsletter.
And, as always, I’m thankful for the many creators who walk this path alongside me, offering support and camaraderie along the way. Yes, I’m thankful for YOU dear Sub It Clubbers.
So please remember this holiday season, all you can control is the work — the pen on the paper, the inks on the page. As long as you are indulging your curiosity, you are an author. As long as you continue to feel joy in the work, you are an illustrator. You are on the right path.