Monday, December 29, 2014

Top 5 Writing Celebrations of 2014

Writing...reflecting...looking deep, 
all under the watchful eye of MJ

         A year-end is, of course, a wonderful time for reflection and goal-setting. Looking back on my year in writing, I am very happy with my progress. Though I say I've been writing seriously for about 4 years, 2014 was when I got REALLY serious. I put myself out there more than ever, and bumped writing up on my list of free-time activities, knocking out a few of my other favorite pastimes (apologies to my neglected piano as well as anyone expecting a homemade birthday or holiday card). Here, my top 5 celebrations in writing from the year: 

5. Connecting. Just like many industries, writing is about much more than just writing. I won't say it's ALL about who you know, but it sure doesn't hurt to know some people. Since my teaching profession actually does not involve a ton of networking, this is new to me. For a while I hovered with my toes just inside the line of the writing community, but this year I stepped in (yeah, jumping in is just not my style) with both feet. And, ok, I think we technically reconnected in 2013, but this year I've so enjoyed chatting more and more with my first-best-friend-turned-children's-author, Jessica Lawson. Still so psyched we found each other & share a passion for children's books!

4. Finishing my 1st Novel. I may be the only person in Chicago thankful for the "Polar Vortex" or whatever you want to call the string of 40 below zero and snow-filled days in early 2014. These days provided me with many days off work, stuck at home cozied up to my laptop. I'd joined a SCBWI group called the NYNNies (a spin-off of NaNoWriMo that stands for "New Year New Novel") and the timing couldn't have been better. Though it was very, very, very rough, by January 31st I finished my first middle grade novel manuscript! Even better, I have now completed 2nd and 3rd drafts and am halfway through the 4th revision (can I finish by 2015? That's the goal!)

3. Prairie Writer's & Illustrator's Day. See my post about this writing conference for more details, but to sum it up: great breakout sessions, became re-inspired, worked up the nerve to introduce myself to the members of the panel & received personalized feedback on my work. Win. 

2. Getting Interest in Response to a Query. Any published or pre-published writer knows: learn to live with rejection. Most people go through hundreds of rejection letters (or sometimes no response at all). So, when I sent an email query to a picture book publisher, I never imagined I'd get an immediate response that they were interested and would get back to me!! Ultimately, they passed, but that almost didn't matter (ok, it mattered). But the important part was that little mini-ego-boost I got from that glimmer of interest. That may keep me going for years!

1. Creating My Social Media Presence. Up until 2014, one of the easy things about my budding writing career was that it was optional. What I mean is that most people besides my family, close friends, and critique group didn't even know I wrote children's books. I wasn't really held accountable. So, it was really scary to start this blog and sign on to Twitter. Other people with life goals or New Year's Resolutions know what I'm talking about: once you announce your goal, people are going to ask you about it. It is motivating and intimidating. Now that everyone knows it's my dream to become a published children's book author, I can't just tell them "oh, I don't really feel like it anymore." LAME! And untrue. But the cool thing about announcing my goal is the massive amount of support I've received. I'd like to take this opportunity to give a big THANK YOU to everyone who has asked me about my books, read and/or commented on my blog, and given three cheers for my writing. 

          Check back in January for my 2015 Writing Resolutions, Writing Inspiration, and the 100 Best Writing Websites of 2014...