In celebration of the ten-year anniversary of www.cynthialeitichsmith.com, I asked some established authors--folks I'd featured early on--the following question:
Over the past decade, what are the most important lessons you've learned about your craft, the writing/artistic life, and/or publishing, and why?
Here's the latest reply, this one from children's author Michelle Meadows.
The biggest lesson I've learned over the past decade is that I am in charge of my writing. That means that it's up to me to take my writing seriously and work on my craft.
There was one time in particular where I went through a period of reflection. I had one picture book published pretty quickly, and then the rejection letters piled up.
I felt so tired. So I decided to take a break from writing, step back, and think about whether I wanted to keep writing and trying to get published.
A few important things happened during this period of reflection. One important thing is that I found out that I couldn't stay away from writing. Even though I was supposed to be taking a "break," new ideas for stories kept coming and characters kept talking to me.
Another thing was that during this same time, I bought one of those little books of inspirational quotations as a birthday gift for a relative. Right before I wrapped the gift, I decided to flip through the book and read all the quotations.
And there was one in particular that struck me. It was this quote by actress Mary Pickford: "If you have made mistakes, there is always another chance for you. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call 'failure' is not the falling down but the staying down."
I love that. Especially the part about "a fresh start any moment you choose."
I realized that I didn't have to give up. I didn't have to let my past rejection letters swallow me up. At any moment, I could have a fresh start; I could choose to write something totally new and try again.
The next manuscript I wrote after that was Pilot Pups (Simon & Schuster, 2008)!
Read a Cynsations interview with Michelle.