Blind Date Jitters

Dear AgentI feel like I just mailed a love note. And now I want to crawl into the post office box to get it back.

It’s that time of year again, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) conference season in the Midwest. Many of us children’s book writers and illustrators are frantically polishing treasured stories for a manuscript review. In return, we’ll receive feedback to improve our work.

Critique reviews also provide a prime networking opportunity. We try to bring our best to the table in an attempt to knock agents and editors–or experienced critiquers who know agents and editors–off of their feet. Usually, we’ve never met our manuscript reviewer before. We just know he/she hangs out on a pedestal.

The submission process feels awkward, like sending a love letter to a blind date in hopes of compatibility. It’s extremely humbling, yet stocked with hopeful anticipation and romantic notions of finding the one who will find extraordinary worth in us and our work.

Though some writers and illustrators may not admit it, our secret hope is that the agent or editor will say, “Where have you been? I’ve been looking for you all of my life. Will be my client? I must represent you and only you. Is this seven figure contract enough to seal our bond?”

Luckily I specialize in fiction.

I probably should look into fantasy.

Anyway, for all of you SCBWI Conference-wooers: Don’t lose your nerve! Step away from the post office box. You’re not a delusional stalker–really. (Okay, well some of us are.)

Incidentally, the Minnesota SCBWI Conference will be held October 12-13, followed by the Iowa SCBWI Conference, October 18-20. I’m cheering for some lucky agent/editor to find the one in you.



THE HARE AND THE TORTOISE, written by Lord Dunsany. Artwork by Milo Winter. This image by THE AESOP FOR CHILDREN is a public domain image.

Writing a book is a marathon–not a sprint. So much else in life is an all-out race, this slow-and-not-so-sure reality makes most book writers feel judged for not producing immediate results.

Our cultural urgency to succeed and do it now deals writers an undue amount of shame and guilt. We’re rarely there on time to meet and greet the people  prematurely gathering at the finish line.

A 90-year-old relative said to me, “People ask me what you do with all of your time. I told them, ‘I have no idea.'”

Another relative, a 23-year-old, said, “What will you do while I take my nap?”

I said, “I’ll work on my book.”

A couple of hours later, she awoke and stretched. “So, are you done with your book?”

Another friend said, “Oh, children’s books.Those are easy to pump out, aren’t they? So-and-so wrote a children’s book. If he can do it anyone can.”

That’s what I used to think.

Instant success expectations are why there are more people who want to write books than books. Writing is humbling. And if enough people think you’re taking too long or doubt you can finish the marathon, you can start to doubt it yourself.

Me? I’m sticking with the process because I know how the story ends. The tortoise wins the race–maybe skinny and battle-scarred by the sacrifice–but she/he crosses the finish line.

The pleasing ending of the Hare and the Tortoise was possible because the tortoise was at home (a state of being for us/a physical place for tortoises) doing what he/she was designed to do, yet unafraid to stick his/her head out and plod forward under the protective thick shell of faith, hope, and focus.

Limbitless Nick Vujicic

Man of Steel Christopher Reeve drew admiration leaping tall buildings in a single bound faster than a speeding bullet. And all of that in tights. His superhero persona wasn’t bad, if you like that rippling muscle, perfect jawline, piercing eyes sort of guy; but he earned my hero-worship when he persevered, even thrived, as a  quadriplegic after his real-life horse-riding accident. It was then he said, “Some  people are walking around with full use of their bodies and they’re more  paralyzed than I am.”

Wow, did his words convict me. It’s so easy to let life intimidate and stop us short of our potential. Then I learned of another real live superhero five years ago. A friend sent me a YouTube link featuring a motivational presentation by Australian Nick Vujicic. Vujicic’s fearless joy stirs me to the core.

I hope to introduce everyone I know–children and adults–to Nick, as an inspiration to live life zestfully and gratefully, and to never become paralyzed by fear of life’s failures or successes.

Some people make us move forward in hope. See for yourself why I wanna be like Nick.

Click on the photo for a recent presentation by Nick Vujicic.

Click on the photo for a recent presentation by Nick Vujicic.

And, here’s what he’s up to now.

Click on the photo for a 2013 60 Minute report on Nick Vujicic and his wife.

Click on the photo for a 2013 60 Minute report on Nick and Kanae Vujicic and his wife.

Vujicic Family with Baby Kiyoshi James

Vujicic Family with Baby Kiyoshi James

Nick Vujicic’s life formula:
I’ve never met a bitter person who was thankful.
Or a thankful person who was bitter.

Click on the photo for the short film starring Nick Vujicic.

Click on the photo for the short film starring Nick Vujicic.

If you want more:
Nick Vujicic full DVD

His web sites:

When life paralyzes you, remember Nick Vujicic. Like him, you are important and your life is a gift for the world. Don’t deny us the joy of knowing the real you. Keep moving forward!