Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Guest Post: Kristen Simmons on The Toddler-hood of Publishing

Kristen writing in her son's fort
By Kristen Simmons
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

My third book comes out this February – the last book in the Article 5 series – and though I feel fortunate to have additional stand alone titles to follow it in the coming years, I can’t help but feel like a very important part of my life is coming to a close.

My first series will be done, which still blows me away when I think of how I waited ten years to see my first book on a shelf.

I have held my work in my hands, traveled to share it with others, and spoken about it at conferences.

I now know about the mysterious world of publishing.

Which is, to say, I know just how much I don’t know.

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Trust me. Just when you think you’ve got it decently figured out, something comes along to throw you off course. A bad review comes in. Then another. And another.

Your revisions are just not right. Your editor informs you that you have been using “more or less” wrong in every draft of every novel you’ve sent her way (which is now five).

But that’s not to say I haven’t learned anything over the last few years. I’m in a constant state of learning. And being the mom of toddler, I can tell you that these journeys are not so different.

When my son does something awesome like puts away his toys, or doesn’t throw his spaghetti in my face, we celebrate. We make a big deal out of the little things. I have done a record-breaking number of happy dances this year for eating broccoli or not pulling the dog’s tail.

On the flip side, we don’t focus on the negative. We are trying to teach him to recognize hurt, sadness, and anger, but not to drown in them. Not to stay down every time he falls. To adapt, adjust, and move forward.

Watching him has made me realize I’ve now entered the toddler-hood of publishing.

I’m not good at celebrating victories. I am, however, exceptional at focusing on my faults.

At least I was. I’ve realized that if you don’t recognize your own accomplishments, you don’t know when you’re going the right direction. I like writing too much not to feel good about it.

I’ve learned not to dwell on negative reviews, or focus on how much more successful my writer friends are.

I have to move forward, because if I stay in that space too long, I’ll get stuck.

I don’t want my son to live in a perpetual tantrum because he didn’t get another cookie, and I don’t want to not feel the excitement, and gratitude, and kinship that have become such an important part of my life through these books.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: I’m not afraid of the bumps in the road anymore. They still trip me up, but I don’t let them keep me down.

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