Sometimes doing a good thing, even a very good thing, is not necessarily the best thing for us. It’s hard to know when boundaries need to be placed, when risks need to be taken, when the unknown is better for us than the relative safety of routine. It’s hard to change. But as writers and illustrators, we must be protective of our time, our creative mental space, and recognize when a good thing, even a very good thing, could be getting in the way.
I’ve been the managing editor of Kite Tales and on the Los Angeles SCBWI Regional Board for the past four years. First, as a co-editor with Christine Van Zandt, who continues to contribute awesome content, and then as the sole ME for three years. But I was never alone. In addition to Christine, I had amazing team members like proofreaders Ermila Moodley, Cheryl Bommarito Klein, and Noel Csermak (current) and my invaluable assistant editor Erlina Vasconcellos. These wonderful folks, along with our CenCal and SoCal regions, our own L.A. regional team, and all our contributors helped us to take Kite Tales from a small newsletter in 2015 with 7,000 views to a blog with over 17,000 unique views in 2018 and more on the way in 2019. I am so proud to have my name on this project!
Kite Tales is an amazing boon to my knowledge of and career in kid lit, but it’s a ton of work! When I found myself slipping into burnout, I had to take stock of whether or not this very good thing was becoming not so good for me. We professional creatives have to somehow share time and mental space between creativity, networking, volunteering, business administration, education, new skills, and oh yeah…paying the bills! Not to mention having a personal life that doesn’t short change family, friends, and self-care. A healthy work-life balance is incredibly hard to maintain, impossible at certain times in our lives, and how we do so is never the same for everyone. One thing is usually true though: we know when we need a break from something, even if we don’t want to admit it.
Amusingly, I made the decision to step down as ME right before Writers Day 2019, thinking I’d tell the regional advisors after the chaos of the event subsided. And then I won the Sue Alexander Service and Encouragement Award! Awkward… I promise I didn’t just take the win and run, ha ha! It was scary to confess I needed to change my role at Kite Tales. It felt like giving up, like embracing imperfection. I’m risking trading a very visible way to prove to others that my writing career is just-fine-thank-you-very-much for that vague, I-promise-I’m-still-working conversation that gets us blank stares and email forwards about entry-level jobs in offices. This business is so slow and the investment it takes to make it is not something most outsiders comprehend. But in the end, it feels scarier to not take the risk to embrace imperfection (which is just humanness) and invest in the breathing room my creativity and career need right now. For similar reasons, assistant editor Erlina is also stepping down with me. Her goodbye follows. I wonder how many of you, my dear readers, need to take that risk too?
We’re leaving Kite Tales in wonderful hands and fresh minds: Farrha Khan will be our new Managing Editor and Erik Gonzales-Kramer will take over as Assistant Editor. They have some great ideas for what comes next and I’m so looking forward to working with them and seeing where they take us!
Thank you for your readership, your friendship, and for making the kid lit community the fabulous, welcoming, and generous place it is. See you at the next SCBWI-L.A. event, where you better come say hello!
ERLINA: A little more than two and a half years ago, I joined the Kite Tales team hoping to learn about the kid lit industry, meet new people, and learn the craft of writing for children. It’s been one of the best things I’ve ever said yes to. I’m grateful for the people I’ve met and the tips and lessons I’ve collected. But more importantly, I’ve been inspired and amazed by the kid lit and SCBWI community — from the volunteer staff who keep SCBWI running, to the agents, editors, authors, and illustrators who have been generous with their time and advice, to the SCBWI members. Thanks to everyone I’ve interviewed for Kite Tales — I’ve learned from every single one of you. And high five to my stellar Kite Tales teammates Sarah Parker-Lee and Noel Csermak. While I won’t be an editor on this blog anymore, I’ll still be an SCBWI member. If you see me at an event, please say hello!
For more fantastic content, community, events, and other professional development opportunities, become a member today! Not sure if there is a chapter in your area? Check here.
Sarah Parker-Lee is a book reviewer for Kirkus Reviews, an editor/story editor and proofreader, literacy advocate, and spent four years as a Los Angeles SCBWI board member and the managing editor of Kite Tales, where she is still a regular contributor. She’s a #FUTURESCAPES19 alum and writes YA alt. history and sci-fi. Twitterings: @SarahSoNovel
When Erlina Vasconcellos isn’t working as a journalist, she writes pictures books and middle grade. Find her on Twitter: @noterlinda
Images provided by Sarah Parker-Lee and Erlina Vasconcellos.