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It’s La Rentrée in France. And I’m just back from a glorious three week break. Three weeks, people!
But during that time I could not bring myself to crack open any of the many projects I’d brought along to work on.
At first, I felt very guilty about this. Then I grew worried. Was something wrong with me?
Finally, my husband and daughter scooped me up in their loving arms and reminded me that I hadn’t allowed myself a break in a very, very, very long time. We’re talking years, folks!
Such is the life of the full-time (and then some) author/entrepreneur.
So, I gave in. I really had no other choice.
I slept, sometimes 12 hours at a stretch, took long walks and lazy country drives. I practiced yoga and bought fresh produce right off the farm. I cooked. I ate. I read. And I slept some more.
Then an amazing thing happened: I got a story idea. An idea that has no relation of any kind with either Time Traveler Tales or Time Traveler Tours.
I spent time, every day, for the remainder of my vacation writing creatively. Improvising. Playing with words. Having fun. Because that’s what happens when you stop, make space and let inspiration happen.
And I'm thrilled to say the first draft of my new chapter book is nearly done!
I've spent so much time these past two years, since the launch of Beware Mme la Guillotine, working on my author platform: puzzling out social media, working around an editorial calendar, marketing, attending conferences, trying to make sense of the ever-evolving publishing industry, building a new website.
And it’s all been good.
But I’ve slipped up on making time for the one true thing that got me here in the first place; the one true thing I need to do to drive my writing career forward:
I’m reminded of the advice Laurie Halse Anderson offered in her Keynote Address at SCBWI-LA 2013: that Children’s authors should seek to remain children themselves.
We can't do that without a bit of play from time to time.
Laurie suggested we plaster our creative spaces with souvenirs of who we were as five year olds. She encouraged us to "embrace the sanctity of silliness”, because that’s what children do. Everyday. She beseeched us to “create bravely now”, like children. Because they never ask for permission to create. They just do it.
Stop worrying about your platform, she spat. (Literally. She hocked a super loogey. And spat. Right on the stage floor. I kid you not!) And write, she implored.
I loved these words then, and I love them now. But I can only partially agree with them. For those of us who have not yet been discovered -- who have not yet broken out, who do not yet have numerous award-winning books to our names -- we don’t have the luxury of spitting on our author platforms. We have to worry about them. And we need give them time them everyday.
But we must not get sucked up by them.
We need to find that balance between creativity and career.
Balance can be so difficult in our profession. Finding creative time versus career time versus family time, etc., requires clever scheduling, knowing one’s best work habits and constant discipline.
In the midst of it all, we must not forget our own down time. We owe it to ourselves. Every year. Every week. Every day.
For that’s when inspiration happens.
How do you find balance? How do make time for both creativity and career?
Please click ‘comments’ at the right and offer your tips and advice, for my benefit and the benefit of all author/entrepreneurs.
Merci et Bonne Rentrée!
May the 2013-14 school year be OUR year!
Bisous (big kiss), Sarah
thing: We authors and illustrators are what we read. Right?
I mean, you wouldn't try to write a picture book without first reading a ton of them and studying the form, would you?
Likewise, you wouldn't set off to write a piece of middle grade fiction without first knowing that genre.
Yet, many of the people who contact me for advice on how to create and publish eBooks and Apps don't actually own a device upon which to read their desired future publication.
My advice to them: Know
If you wish to produce digitally, you need to obtain and study digital content first. For each story demands its own form or forms. And each form offers its own unique way of telling, and receiving, stories.
Digital formats are not simply recreations of traditional publishing formats. At least they shouldn't be. So knowing the potential of each of today's publishing options is the only way to know what you like and what you don't; what elements you simply must include in your future enhanced book or app; and what features you and your story can live without.
Most of us, however, are flummoxed as to how to begin. I know I once was. And the way forward seems always to be changing.
So I made this video for you: to demystify the process of obtaining eBooks and Apps, and to help you decide what is the best eReader for your purposes given your personal publishing goals.
I hope you find it helpful. If you do, please feel free to pass it on.
And if you have any questions or wish to share a comment, by all means, fire away!
As I Lay... Catching up on Missed Sleep
It was uplifting. It was exhausting.
It was inspirational, productive, and fun.
It was sublime. It was ridiculous.
If you get only one conference, let this be the one.
It was intense, but with mellow chocolate-martini-esque moments.
It was welcoming, supportive, collegial, and warm.
It was eye-popping, butt-kicking, heart-thumping, rockin’,
Motivational, sensational... quite far from the norm.
I met Max in his wolf suit, two Cruella Devilles,
I rubbed elbows with my secret mentors and stars.
I forged brand new connections, and forged former ones deeper.
I flirted with mascots with checks upon thars.
The Ave of the Stars never teemed with such talent,
of voices “post-discovered”, and those not quite yet.
It was the SCBWI-LA annual reunion.
A five-day marathon I will never forget.
A revolution in poetry for the iPad is here! A Word's a Bird, Spring Flies By in Rhymes, is a brand new interactive bilingual poetry app that appeals to children and adults alike, whether French- or English-speaking. It’s a great language-learning tool, with interactive glossaries that include touch-activated sounds, making the rhymed metaphors accessible to even the youngest readers.
The app is candy for the eyes, boasting hundreds of hand-painted watercolors by Jeanne B. de Sainte Marie that are then beautifully animated.
I caught up with Jeanne on my way to the 42nd Annual Summer Conference of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators in LA. (Only two more days!) I asked her to tell us all about her process of going from a traditional art form to a state-of-the-art one.