Writing, when it’s going well, is full of joy. Something that starts in your head makes it onto a page and has a life of its own.
But writing isn’t always easy. It can be fraught with frustration, whether it’s because you’re straining to find the right word, or you’re stuck on a plot point, or you’re worn down by the geologic pace of the industry. There are no quick, easy answers, and it’s so easy to get distracted and waste time rather than moving closer to your goals.
What keeps me going? Aside from the sublime moments of finding the perfect word, the elation at finishing a piece that I’ve worked on for a long time? My favorite thing about writing is the people.
I have met wonderful, open, creative, kind, hilarious people: writers, illustrators, agents, and editors. And I’ve been fortunate enough to have the best critique partners in the world — women who are like sisters, mothers, therapists, and cheerleaders to me. They have listened patiently while I despaired that I couldn’t, didn’t want to finish something, that I had no idea where it was going, and then quietly encouraged me to get back up and sit back down and get back to work. And I did. They have shared in my excitement about something that is going well — a word or a phrase or a chapter or an entire manuscript that they love, or exciting news in my quest for an agent.
I’ve cheered my critique parters’ successes, and commiserated over disappointments. Sometimes, I’m the support and the fresh eyes that they need. And I’m a better writer — and a better person — for it.
My critique partners have become some of my best friends. That wasn’t something I expected at his point in my life.
Writing is not a zero-sum game. The world will always need more great books. And in my experience, the children’s writing community is characterized by generosity and friendship.
And that’s what keeps me going.