Thursday, March 8, 2018

KINDNESS by Jane Kelley

Let's face it--writing is a lonely business. So I'm really grateful for any chance to connect with other writers.

For the past nine years, I've been a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. This international organization offers support and advice--and plenty of opportunities for writers and illustrators to join in workshops, critique groups, and conferences.
The Wisconsin Chapter of SCBWI asked me to mentor a pre-published writer. I chose Maria Parrott-Ryan because I admired her project, her professionalism, and her talent. I read her middle-grade novel and gave her feedback. We've met a few times for wide-ranging discussions. Some might think that I'm being kind to her. But guess what? She's being MUCH kinder to me!

Maria listens to me. As any parent knows, it's really gratifying when someone is willing to learn from your experience. After I tell Maria about the things I wish I had done differently in my career, she might take my advice. (Unlike my actual daughter who, while not exactly an eye-roller, can still be a little condescending just because she texts with both thumbs and I slowly use one finger.)

Maria is enthusiastic. I'm not jaded about writing, but I'm grateful to be reminded of what a miracle it is to be able to create characters and worlds. Maria is like someone who has just fallen in love. Compared to her, I'm an old married woman. That steady stability enables me to do my work. BUT  it's important to appreciate the gift of what we do. To see the world of writing and publishing with fresh eyes. To feel that heart-ponding excitement at the process of sending our books out into the world where people will read them.

Maria read my books--and talked intelligently about them to me. That is really kind. I have family members who haven't read anything I've written--although I guess it's possible that they're being kind by not complaining about what they read.

So thank you, Maria, for all you are doing for me.

Oh--she also bought me lunch!

7 comments:

  1. Terrific post, Jane, and great insights into the mutuality of support among writers. You and Maria are both inspiring to me.

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  2. I'm grateful to you for so many things, Jane! Mostly your kindness and thoughtfulness and honesty. But also because you don't make me text.

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    1. Ha! No texting necessary -- just a great partnership.

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  3. That mutual back and forth kind of support is what makes writing for kids so rewarding.

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  4. Lunch! And this is so true--it's great to see the industry through those fresh eyes every once in a while.

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