The Writing Life: Putting Yourself Out There

 by Jean Daigneau

When I sold my first two picture books over 20 years ago, I couldn’t know

 that not only would those books never be published, it would take almost 20

  more years to see my first book in print.

Happily, just over 2 years later, my second nonfiction book was published by

Chicago Review Press as well.

Early on my writing journey, I attended a writers’ event where picture book author Eric Kimmel put a scenario to the attendees. Kimmel had us imagine having a crystal ball and seeing a future where we would never get published. Only if we continued to write anyway, he said, would we have what it takes to pursue publication.

            If anyone had told me then what a roller-coaster

 ride pursuing publication would be, I might not have

 believed it. Actually, I’m not sure I would have stuck it

 out. Over those years, through rejection after rejection,

 my late husband always asked, “But are you having

 fun?” whenever I complained about the challenging,

 changing world of children’s publishing. My answer

 always sounded like, “Oh yeah! I’m learning amazing stuff. I’m having fun. I’ve met interesting

 authors, editors, and agents. I’ve made wonderful friends.”

            Writing then and even more today is a lot about taking risks. It means putting yourself out there and taking advantage of opportunities you might not otherwise have considered. It means getting involved in writers’ organizations, attending events whenever possible, finding critique partners, and giving your writing as much priority as you possibly can. It means taking rejections with a thick skin and getting back to the keyboard the next day and the next and the next.

While it took me two decades to get a book

 published, I’ve sold greeting card text, educational

 testing material, nonfiction children’s poetry and

 crafts, and adult freelance articles. I’ve appeared on

 local television and radio and presented at writers’

 events, and I write a quarterly column for

  Children’s Book Insider. I’m blessed to be

 represented by Vicki Selvaggio of Storm Literary

 Agency. None of these opportunities were on my radar when I first considered publishing.

         Today, writing is more challenging than ever. The industry has faced challenges, not the least of which was an epidemic. My critique partners and I often question why we write. But then one of us usually answers, “Because we can’t not do it.” As hard as it is to admit, Eric Kimmel was right. These days, I’m sticking my neck out further with an adult project. This story came to me because of a family connection, and I never saw it coming. While I regularly remind my co-writer, “I write for kids,” I know I’d be foolish not to at least try.

            Because, in the end, it’s about putting myself out there. Day after day after day. The worst that can happen is that I never see this project published. But then again, maybe someday I will.

Jean also co-owns a freelance critique editing service, Two-4-One Kid Critiques, LLC. Learn more about Jean on her website: