I had the great privilege to attend the Boise SCBWI conference last weekend. It was my fourth conference and there were only about 50-60 people there, so it was by far the smallest one I've been to, but it was awesome.
Usually conferences are filled with craft workshops, social media classes, self publishing how-tos, and agents and editors speaking about query letters and acquisitions. They're helpful. I usually pick up some new thing to try and I feel a little bit refreshed by the end of the weekend.
This was different. Though every speaker had a different topic I gleaned one cohesive message from the weekend, and it was truly inspiring.
Basically it was this:
Writing is an art. Learn from others, but remember that in the end it's deeply personal and the only one who knows how to do your art is you. Publishing is a business. People find success in a variety of ways. Learn from others, know your options and then make informed decisions. Every publishing career is different and the only one who knows how you should do it is you.
These messages felt very liberating. The online writing world is full of advice about how to write and how to publish and it's overwhelming sometimes. We have to remember that each of us is different. We all write for our own reasons and we have different jobs and responsibilities outside of writing. There is no one size fits all writing strategy. And there isn't a publishing option that works for everyone. We are unique and our writing journeys will be unique too.
My journey has been feeling very different from the norm lately, and I've worried that means I'm doing it wrong. I'm realizing that's not the case. I'm doing it my way, and my way is what works for me.
I'm grateful for good friends and an amazingly supportive agent (who just laughed when I spilled eggs all over her last weekend!) who remind me why I'm writing and encourage me every step of the way.
Do you get overwhelmed by all the voices in the writing and publishing world? Do you ever need to step back and remember that both your writing and your publishing path are unique?
I'm a mother of four who loves gardening, trips to the beach, and books that aren't boring. I write novels for children and young adults. My writing is represented by Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary Agency.