Friday, 16 December 2011

Just Keep Swimming! - Karen Ball

Lego Christmas Tree at St Pancras International

As publishers wind down for Christmas (which often means pinging last, frantic emails to authors so that they can work over Christmas!) and parties abound (check out Katie Dale's recent amusing guide to surviving publisher parties here) it's a good time for the author in the street or the novice writer to take stock. How has your year been? Did you achieve all you set out to? Were you as productive as previous years? Are you happy with the publishing scene in 2011?

Actually, children's publishing has not been hit as hard as others in this staggeringly bleak recession we're currently enduring. According to The Bookseller, sales of children's books have rocketed over the past ten years. (I can't show you that article because it's subscription only. I'm sure this says something deep and meaningful about online journalism and the book industry, I just don't know what!)

Stroppy Author posted a great blog on annual self-appraisal recently. I love Stroppy Author's blog - it's jam-packed with wisdom and information gained from years of experience and staggering productivity. I like the narrative tone, too - our teacher lays all the cards on the table and then leaves us to do what we will with this information. No over-optimistic encouragement, no words of doom. Just plain, solid facts.

So what did I achieve in 2011? I wrote a novel! A novel that I absolutely loved working on and am about to start revising. I wrote several commissioned titles for a publisher. I helped organise Undiscovered Voices. I blogged up a storm in various venues! But I think my most important achievement this year was retaining my optimism and love of writing. When times are tough - and oh my, they are tough despite Bookseller articles - it's easy to close the door, change the locks and find something else to do.

Rejection is part of every author's life, in good times and bad. It's important to give yourself time to cry and wail, punch pillows, kick furniture. But then it's very, very important to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start thinking about what you'd like to do next. Do you need a new direction? Is it time to take advice from other professionals who have become friends? Do you just need a rest and to come back? The most important part is, in the words of Finding Nemo, to 'Just Keep Swimming!'

I hope you have a nice, warm pool or gentle tide to swim in. I hope you're gearing up for a back flip!

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Emma Barnes said...

Karen - loved your optimistic post! Yes let's all keep swimming (no sinking allowed). When I look back over the year I find lots to feel happy about too - not least a new book out, and meeting lots of children who bowled me over with their love of reading, their wonderful writing and their vivid imaginations.

And your photos are gorgeous too.

Penny Dolan said...

Thanks for a positive post amid the gloom, "Dory". Hope your next year is even brighter.

Nicola Morgan said...

Quite right, Karen. After all, if you stop swimming... Actually I am quite likely to drown even while swimming, but let's not go there.

Stroppy Author said...

Thank you, Karen, for your kind words. You have achieved so much this year - that's great! And I love your positive attitude. Yes, just keep swimming... we'll all try to keep each other afloat.