The Journey

I love the subtitle on this blog: From Deal to Debut: The Path to Publication. When I think of the Path to Publication, I picture a whole throng of writer-ly/illustrator-y people, all traveling together, a Pilgrimage to the City of Being Published.
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We all arrived on the Path in different ways. Some of us joined it early in life, some came to it later. Some of us have made the pilgrimage many times, others are toiling on, and on… and on, with nothing to show for it but blisters on our feet. Some are weighed down by the journey, while others seem to skip merrily along, book deals raining down on them like confetti at a parade.
But here’s the thing. Unlike many professions, especially creative ones, the Path to Publication for children’s books is populated by some of the greatest people you will meet. In my experience, my fellow travelers are all rooting for my success. Here are some of them:
• My teachers- Elementary school, Jr. high, high school… all the way up to the extremely talented faculty at Vermont College of Fine Arts. All along the way I’ve been fortunate to have great teachers (including librarians!) who have encouraged me to write. Thank you!
• My critique partners- Whether I’ve been a member of a critique group or just an informal manuscript exchange, I’ve gotten great feedback, both the “I love this!” kind as well as the, “I’m kind of confused about why the principal would ride a pony to school” kind. You know who you are. Thank you!
• People in SCBWI- I joined SCBWI about ten years ago because I heard it was a great way to learn more about the craft of writing and illustrating. What no one told me was how very, very supportive everyone has been. Oh, I’m sure SOME member SOMEwhere must be a jerk, but by far the norm is to have people who are encouraging, excited about my progress, and willing to share their experience. You know who you are. Thank you!
• Fellow students- When I began this journey, I wanted to approach it like the teacher I am. I wanted to go to school. I found a college that offered a master’s degree in writing for children. Unfortunately, I had a small baby and I had taken time off from teaching, so both time and money were at a premium. But ten years later, it worked out, and I found my home-away-from-home in Vermont College. It also came with a whole bunch of brother and sister writers who are my mentors and cheer squad. I love you guys! Thank you!
• People in my agency group- Not only was I blessed with a fabulous agent (Are your ears burning, Ammi-Joan Paquette?), signing with the Erin Murphy Literary Agency came with an instant cohort of talented writers and illustrators. Thank you!
• Friends and family- Okay, they’re not all officially writers, but when it comes to people cheering me on from the sidelines, these folks can’t be beat. You know who you are. Thank you!
So with all these wonderful people who are rooting for my success, what’s my response? It has to be to come alongside others on the journey and be part of their support group. For people just beginning their journey, to point them to the books and groups that helped me. I was once there. For people who are close to publication, to encourage them. I’m right there with them. For people who have reached the destination, to be their promoter and cheer for them. Hopefully someday I’ll be there, too, but for now, I’m enjoying the journey because of my other travelers. You make the path worth it!
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12 Comments

by | September 4, 2014 · 6:41 am

12 responses to “The Journey

  1. Lindsey Lane

    What a feel good post, Rebecca. Cheering for you. Cheering for us.

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  2. love your positive post, Rebecca…we are all so lucky to have each other!

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  3. Love that image of us all traveling as pilgrims. There are some really lovely people in this caravan.

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  4. What an incredible Thank You note! The Kidlit folk are really great and you’re right, it’s wonderful to have this kind of support as we travel to the City of Being Published.

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  5. I feel blessed to have you as a traveling partner, Rebecca! =D

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  6. This post is right on! Writing the acknowledgments for my novel was agonizing. If I had named every single person who had helped and/or encouraged me along my path, those pages would’ve been longer than the novel itself. Somewhere, I want to post the “real” acknowledgments on my website. Even then, I know I’ll forget to mention someone. There have just been so MANY wonderful people!!

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  7. Rebecca Van Slyke

    I’m kind of glad picture books DON’T have acknowledgement pages. It was hard enough when my editor asked for ONE person to dedicate the book to. Maybe this was my dedication page. 🙂

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  8. kevanjatt

    You hit this right on the head, Rebecca. We are so fortunate to belong to such a helpful, supportive, caring group of folk.

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