There’s something about the way we measure ourselves from one year to the next by going to the same place at the same time of year.
I’ve only been to two KidLitVic conferences – this year and last year – but it’s enough to make me reflect on what has changed in the twelve months between conferences. The conferences are for emerging writers who write picture books, junior fiction, middle-grade fiction and young adult fiction.
Last year I left KidKitVic feeling euphoric. I had met with an editor who ‘loved’ my writing! She wanted to read more! She wanted me to submit it to her! She told me it was publishable, if not by her publisher, then by another publishing house.
But after sending it to that editor towards the end of last year, I found out recently that she didn’t want to publish it. There was so much to like about it, she wrote, but it wasn’t for her.
This year at KidLitVic on the weekend, I met with another editor from a different publishing house. She read the first chapter, told me it was well-written but said I needed to raise the stakes and work on the dialogue. All her feedback resonated with me, but it’s disheartening to know there is yet more revising to be done.
The panels at the conference were inspiring, particularly the opening address by Leigh Hobbs, where he talked about his many rejections. The creative energy at the conference was palpable – hundreds of attendees at the Melbourne Town Hall, along with a bunch of publishers, editors and agents. The illustration folios on display were amazingly breathtaking – such a talented group of creatives. There were quite a few breaks, including a cocktail party, which meant that I talked to friends and met other writers, as well as editors and agents.
Jack Canfield, an American motivational speaker, writes that there is never a ‘no’, only a ‘next’. I guess I was hoping that KidLitVic would be my ‘yes’ but it turns out it was only a ‘next’. But ‘next’ is a stronger word than ‘no.’
A couple of days ago, I met with two of my writing friends and had a strategy session. Who do we send our next query letter to? Which course would be most beneficial? Which book launch should we attend? Which publisher would be most receptive to our writing? What is our ‘next’?
And really, the ‘next’ means going back to my manuscript and revising it. Next!