I have been writing since I was five years old. It’s something I truly love to do. It satisfies a creative part of me that nothing else seems to.
My goal for nearly 40 years was to have a novel published, but my attempts met with rejection. I kept writing—for the joy of doing it. But frustration with the publishing world took the shine off my joy. A short story and a few of my poems were published, and some short stories won prizes. That was encouraging. But I still yearned for a published novel.
At one very frustrating low point, when I felt my goal would never be reached, my sister said, “Even if you never have a book published, think of how much you enjoyed the writing. And think about the friends you’ve made through your writing.”
She made me look at things a little differently. She was right. Especially about the friends. I met other writers in my two critique groups and in my local SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) chapter. I met writers at workshops and conferences. Many of them became dear friends, whom I love like family.
Some of the writers I met were very successful and some were like me—unpublished. What they had in common was their love for writing and books. People who write for young readers are some of the warmest, most-giving people I’ve ever met. They care about one another. They offer help and encouragement. I learned a great deal from them, but most importantly, I gained cherished friendships.
The low, frustrated person my sister spoke to that day asked myself a question: If you had to choose between having a published novel or having all the friends you’ve made in the writing world, which would you choose? The answer was easy. My friends. In a heartbeat. They are the best part of all my writing years.
From that day, I went forward in my writing with a changed attitude. Getting published was still a goal, but I knew I had already won the better prize. And do you know what happened very soon after I changed my attitude? I was offered a contract on one of my novels. LIKE A RIVER will be published in April, 2015. And I am ecstatic about it.
But deep down, I know my friendships are still the best part of it all.