Writing and Carnegie Hall

One of the first books I read on writing for children was Jean Karl’s “How to Write and Sell Children’s Picture Books.”  One of Jean’s quotes from her introduction has stuck with me all these years. I wrote it on a 3 X 5 card as I began my writing journey. It encouraged me to press on, to study hard, and to practice, practice, practice!

It’s a quote I occasionally recite when a new writer quickly becomes discouraged because his or her book or magazine story wasn’t accepted after having studied and practiced for only a few weeks or months.  Here’s the quote:

You wouldn’t expect to pick up a violin, never having played one, and appear the next day at Carnegie Hall as a soloist. Writing is not so different. It takes practice and learning. But unlike the violin, it is something you can teach yourself, with a few guides along the way—” Jean Karl

To me, that quote puts the difficult but wonderfully rewarding work of writing for children in perspective. I especially appreciate the last line, “–it is something you can teach yourself, with a few guides along the way—.”

So, for those who can’t yet “play the violin”— keep learning and practicing because there is HOPE!



2 responses to “Writing and Carnegie Hall

  1. This reminds me of when I began learning the piano. It was a mystery at first — but not for long. Practice and a love of music led me from a c major scale to Debussy’s Afternoon of a Faun. I remember how many times I tried before I got it right. Thanks, Sherry, for this reminder!


  2. shirleyshibley

    Yes, Sherri, the violin is a great example. Reminds me of the story of the master’s touch. We certainly have to be diligent about learning and practice.


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