“Be Glad and rejoice forever in that which I create.” Isaiah 65:18
This summer has become a Summer of Reflection for me. It started when I began the long-neglected project of clearing out closets, cupboards, files and anything else that needed sorting and reorganizing (and throwing out!).
In the process, I was gratified to see and remember how many sales, large and small (over 350), that I’ve made in the past 25+ years. But this process also helped me brush away many “cobwebs” in my mind regarding my writing. I also had a milestone birthday this year, and that often can make a person pause and think about where her life is going from here.
And, the changing nature of publishing, especially children’s publishing, converged with all of the above. Two trends are especially apparent to me. First, a number of magazines for children went out of print, including two of my top markets, Guideposts for Kids and My Friend. Added to that, my other top market, the “Kids’ Reading Room” page of the Los Angeles Times, eliminated their daily 5-part stories and they’ve severely curtailed acceptances for the Sunday page.
Another fact of life is that children’s bookstores across the country are closing their doors, according to Publishers’ Weekly. In our Southern California area, “Imagine That” in Riverside and the venerable “Adventures for Kids” in Ventura are gone, after many years in business. Reasons cited include children’s changing tastes and time spent with the many technological devices they enjoy using. Equally important are competition from “big box” stores (Costco, etc.) and diminishing orders from school districts because of lack of funds.
This, no doubt, is part of the reason the manuscripts for all three of my middle-grades novels (with vastly different characters and plots) continue to be returned (“rejected?”) even after receiving positive comments from editors and other evaluators at SCBWI conferences and other places. After spending many years working on these books, this has been disheartening, indeed. Perhaps editors are looking for novels that are hipper or more edgy than mine are, or they want younger and/or more established names. Certainly books are continuing to be published, but I’m wondering if having a book in print is on my horizon. And, this experience has pointed out to me the necessity of researching a niche market before writing any book.
Meanwhile, my immediate goal is to write shorter pieces, fiction and nonfiction, for children and adults, on subjects that appeal to me, as I seek and discover opportunities for them. At present, I have five pieces in various stages of completion and feel good about them all. A (very) long-term goal is to write a biography of our family for my children and grand-children. I’m also doing other book-related activities, such as volunteering at the local library.
I will always continue to write and explore new avenues for my work. I treasure the time I spend with my writers’ groups, especially Wordsmiths. Is there another book in my future? That’s something I’m leaving in God’s hands. For now, I’m satisfied with all I’ve accomplished, and I feel peaceful and confident about having clarified these goals for myself, and I’m glad I have the opportunity to share them with all of you.
I read Daily Word every day, and shortly after I finished writing this post, I read the entry for today, which referenced the Bible quote above and began “Blessed with talents and abilities that enrich my life, I express myself in meaningful, creative ways.” That surely was a positive affirmation for me!
Contributed by Marjorie Flathers