Wednesday 12 February 2020

Enjoy! by Vanessa Harbour

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend the Debut Author’s Boot Camp run by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. I am not quite a debut author in that my book came out a little while ago, but I wasn’t able to attend the camp previously as had a prior University engagement. That didn’t matter. I left the session feeling revitalised and focused.

The camp had three brilliant tutors: Sara Grant, CandyGourlay and Mo O’Hara. I highly recommend it if you get an opportunity. They covered many things such as life as a debut author, social media and school visits. I gained so much knowledge from these three but something that Sara Grant said really hit home.

She simply said, ‘Remember to enjoy it.’

Sara was talking about the journey you undertake when you are a published writer. It was a reminder to stop and take a breath. Look around and remember what you have achieved. This is something I had lost sight of. It is so easy to get lost in the whirlwind and pressures of being an author that you forget to stop and smell the roses. You have no doubt worked incredibly hard to get to this stage. It is a rollercoaster at times, but I am determined to enjoy it!

Focus on those special moments:

1.     1. The moment you sign your contract initially with your agent maybe then your publisher. We all
Photo by me
thought we’d never get there so it is well worth enjoying and remembering. That first meeting with Janet and Penny at Firefly is etched in my memories. When it is announced the outpouring of love and support is incredible. Don’t forget to hold onto these moments and those feelings. Store them away safely in your memories.

   2. That moment you first see your cover. I was sat in my office at University when Firefly sent through potential covers, asking for my thoughts. I confess there might have been a few tears as my cover was so perfect. The illustrator, Anne Glenn had really summed up the story. I still look at it and smile.

3. Book launches. A moment of joy when you get to celebrate with so many wonderful people. I will never forget mine for Flight. It is up there with the birth of my children as one of the best days of my life

Book Launch
Photo by Candy Gourlay
 4.  Reviews, bloggers, shortlists and longlists. Suddenly you find people are reading your book and they seem to like it. I know Meg, who does the marketing and PR for Firefly, laughs at me because I always seemed surprised when a good review came in. I loved my story but when you send it out into the world you do wonder if others will like it too. Being longlisted and shortlisted for awards is always a good feeling. Children’s Lit bloggers are amazing they write with such passion, we are lucky to have them support our endeavours.

5. School visits. There is nothing better than engaging with your readers at a school visit. Those excited faces watching you, waiting for you to perform (it is also terrifying). Hearing their thoughts on Flight is always magical. Also finding out what work schools have done with your novel. Schools have performed Flight and others used it as inspiration
for art. This picture is an example that was sent to me by Jo Young, a brilliant TA from Broseley CE Primary School. 

These are just a few of the important moments in the journey. There are many, many more. From a simple tweet to hearing that one of your author friends has loved your book.

We all have our own journeys and our own highs and lows but do what Sara suggested, remember to enjoy it along the way.


Dr Vanessa Harbour


Nick Garlick said...

Good to be reminded of this, Vanessa. If you don't/can't enjoy it, what's the point?

Penny Dolan said...

Lovely to see such a bright and cheery post, Vanessa!
"Enjoy!" can be the hardest thing to remember but so essential for the spirit.

Ness Harbour said...

Thank you both, I had lost sight of the 'enjoy' bit because of various worries. Being reminded to remember to enjoy what you're doing because it is a real achievement made such a difference. It is too easy to forget.