Write First!

Ten years ago, just as my writing was beginning to sell, I took a break from my writing life to earn my masters degree in education and teach English/Language arts first in high school level, and then, where I had really wanted to be, in middle school.

When my youngest son graduated high school, I decided it was time for me to graduate as well and return to writing. I have spent this last year and three months learning about the changes that have occurred in the children’s publishing industry, polishing up manuscripts that had been neglected for nearly a decade, studying markets, going to conferences, and submitting to publishers and agents. And I’ve felt frustrated. My writing just didn’t seem to be moving anywhere with any speed.

And then I came across Leonard Marcus’ The Wand and The Word. It contains a series of interviews Marcus conducted with a number of well-known, highly regarded writers of children’s and young adult fantasy. Lloyd Alexander, Susan Cooper, and Jane Yolen are just a few of the many beloved authors included.

In putting together the interviews, Marcus asked each author a similar series of questions, and as I read interview after interview, it finally came clear to me what my own pursuit of a writing life is lacking.

The answer is so obvious! I am embarrassed to confess it had eluded me for so long. The answer is to write. To write first. Almost every writer said they wrote daily.

I had been working at writing—learning about the impact of social networking on the business, researching publisher and agents to whom I might send my work, submitting manuscripts and resubmitting manuscripts. Not only had I worked at it, I’d carved out a weekly schedule so no area of the writing business got neglected.

What I forgot to do is make sure I have time to write.

Well, thank God it’s September, my new year. And this month I am turning over a new leaf. All my little plans and schedules have been revamped. This month I began writing first. Every workday, I get two hours for writing before I dedicate myself to any of the business of writing. I cannot tell you the joy I feel. I love to write! At last I have given myself permission to do it.