By Kathy Evans
Oh. My. Gosh. I have been invited to join the blogging team at Notes From the Slushpile. This is better than:
|Mmm, coffee cake...|
Just over five years ago I guest blogged for NFTS, you can see how giddy I was about it all then.
I am STILL that giddy. This blog meant a great deal to me when I was serving my time on the slush pile – it was a comforting place to go for tips and insights. A place of hope. A place to dream. And I had a lot of time for dreaming. Fifteen-ish years of it – the internetty web thing barely existed back then, blogging was in its infancy, but Notes from The Slushpile had a fan base and amongst the fans was me. So much so that when I met Candy at my first SCBWI conference, I sort of pounced on her and made her be my friend.
It may also have been at that conference that I first heard the maxim:
It takes 10,000 hours of practise to become an expert.
I may have scoffed, being about 987 hours in at that stage, I probably thought I’d done enough.
What a twit I was.
I think I passed the 10,000 hour mark in 2010 and it took me another four years to get my first deal – maybe I’m a slow learner. Still, I did learn, and some quite useful stuff too. Stuff I’d like to share with you. Particularly if you’re at around the 987 hours mark – how should you fill the next 9013?
- Read. There are SO MANY great books out there and if you read a lot, and are a little bit lucky, you’ll absorb some of that greatness.
- Listen. If you sign up for critique, get feedback from an agent or an editor, or even hear your own inner critic – listen. The chances are they, or you, are at least partly right – whether it’s positive or negative – ignoring good, constructive criticism could stop you making your book the best it can be.
- Write. There is no way round this one. Treat writing like a job, set yourself targets. Make no excuses, just get on with it.
- Be patient. More of Me, my debut, is actually the fourth YA novel I’ve written. The FOURTH. I think of those other books as my intern years – I needed to write them to learn how to write More of Me.
- Don’t despair. Rejections happen, they’re par for the course. We all get them, I could paper a room with mine. But do take every tiny bit of encouragement as a positive – a personal note on a rejection or an invitation to resubmit – these are your first glimmers of gold. Keep mining.
Every hour of these things counts towards your 10,000 hours of practise but there’s one more thing I want to add:
I used to think I was rubbish at networking, I have no idea how to work a room of bigwigs, I always end up chatting to the waitress and getting a tiny bit too drunk. You know what though, it doesn’t seem to matter, if you’re nice, genuinely nice, people will want to help you. So get on Facebook and Twitter, join SCBWI, go to events and have fun with other children’s book people.
You may as well share those practise hours with some of the nicest people in the world.
|SCBWI YA Critique 2010|