Welcome to the Kite Tales Writing Challenge: #KTWriteOn. Each writing challenge is crafted by a kid-lit publishing professional to help spark ideas, renew creative energy, and get your work moving out into the world.
This exercise was created by Eric Smith, a Young Adult author and literary agent with P.S. Literary living in Philadelphia. His latest novel, Don’t Read the Comments, was published by Inkyard Press in January 2020, and was a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults nominee. His upcoming books include You Can Go Your Own Way (Inkyard Press, November 2021), and the anthology Battle of the Bands co-edited with Lauren Gibaldi (Candlewick, September 2021). Today he’s sharing some wisdom with us on how to be present for our own work regardless of what’s going on around us.
Take It One Page at a Time
by Eric Smith
There are a lot of popular sayings that go along with the publishing process. And you’ll hear them often from writer friends, folks on social media, people in the industry. How writing is a marathon, not a sprint. How being an author is a business where nothing happens and then suddenly everything happens. To be patient, patient, patient…
All of that can feel incredibly hard to hear, in the age of social media, when that writer you adore is announcing two new books this year, or that agent you’re following sells a new project or two every month.
And then that writer in your critique group goes and gets an agent, and becomes one of those authors. Honestly, the nerve—
How do you sit by, and listen to the platitudes that tell you it’s a leisurely stroll, not a jog? It’s a slow casual jaunt, not a fifty-yard dash? When everyone seems to be passing you by?
Sometimes I think it’s important to look at the publishing process, going from that rough draft to finding an agent to actually seeing your book in stores (and that’s a wildly simple way of looking at it, this is a blog post, not an article)…the way you look at a novel on your bookshelf. To consider your journey the way you’d consider reading a book.
When you speed through a novel, you’re not prepared for the ending. When you hurry through the beginning, the middle becomes wildly confusing. If you jump beyond all the delicious filling, the story isn’t satisfying.
It’s the same way with the journey to being a published author, really.
The beginning, when you’re drafting, getting critique partners, sharing your manuscript with colleagues, learning about the industry…you can’t rush that and expect the end result to be what you want. You need to take your time, you need to be prepared. That middle stage, when you’re looking for agents, figuring out how to write query letters…it can be hard to grasp, if you haven’t taken the time earlier to get your work in the best shape it can be in. And you certainly can’t jump beyond all of that, and expect the result to be what you want.
So, take a breath.
Your friends, your colleagues, your peers that you talk to on social media…they aren’t passing you by. Maybe they are a little further ahead in the book-that-is-their-publishing-journey at this given moment. But that’s okay. We all read, we all write, we all progress at our own pace.
You’ll get there. Your story will get there. Just start at the beginning, and take your time through the end. Even if that one writer in the book-club-that-is-your-writing-group somehow finished already.
Just take it one page at a time.
YOUR #KTWriteOn CHALLENGE: Spend a moment thinking about what YOU need as a writer, right now, to get to that next page. Is it quiet? Is it time? A month-long break? An hour-long nap? A snack? Let us know in the blog comments, post in our Facebook group, or Tweet us @SCBWISOCALLA with the hashtag #KTWriteOn and be sure to mention Eric (@ericsmithrocks) too!
Need more inspiration? Check out all the past #KTWriteOn prompts.