Tools. Everyone needs tools. Most tools are tangible objects, and lord knows, I love objects. I think I horde art and office supplies. Send me to a conference and I'll come home with more post-it note pads than I can ever use in a lifetime. Pens, too.
Tools can also be objects like books. I horde those too. I have stacks, piles, teetering towers of books. There is no method of organization, but one rainy day I attempted to round up a large swarm of books on writing. Those are excellent tools to have, to hold, to use, to recommend. I like to visit the section of those books in my living room. They make me feel confident in my abilities. They have provided comfort and help in, around and during my journey through publication.
This is the result of me using my tools. These sixteen books represent twenty-two years of my life. I've been published for almost seventeen years now. I've learned a lot over the years and over the books, in them, and around them.
The other tool I use is not tangible. I can't stack it. I can't hold it. But I sure can recommend it. That tool is: workshops. Whether you attend the wonderful conferences held by the SCBWI, (Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators for those uninitiated.) or go to other inspiring writers and/or illustrators conferences- for example: The Chuckanut Writers Conference in Bellingham, WA. (Yes, that was a shameless plug. I'm teaching at that conference.)
Workshops give you tools. Tools to expand your thinking and understanding of the medium. Workshops give you confidence in your abilities, or help you see where you need to work on things. Workshops get you out of your head and help you see the whole picture. They give you perspective. Folks seem to think it is easy to write children's picture books. It is not. Amazing author/illustrator Adam Rex did a funny blog post about this the other day. You can read it here.
These are very competitive times in children's publishing and you must arm yourself for the journey if you want to see your story make it all the way to the shelves and the tottering towers of books in my house, or other houses.
So, that said, I offer a remedy. A carrot. And a very inexpensive one at that. (Some workshops can be quite pricey, but I still do not regret the money I spent to take Robert McKee's Story Seminar in LA years ago.) I will be teaching a very intense full-day workshop titled, "Creating Children's Picture Books" next Saturday, May 21st from 9am - 4pm at Whatcom Community College in beautiful Bellingham, Washington. The cost for six hours, plus a working lunch if you so desire (I'll do short critiques during the one hour lunch break- as long as you let me chew and swallow my sandwich.)- this whole deal costs $75. You can read more about the class by going here and scrolling down to my class title. You can register here. My workshop is number S8104.
I don't do these workshops very often. At this point it's been once a year. I do have stacks and teetering piles of unfinished book project of my own that I'm constantly working on, polishing, revising and that keeps me from teaching more... but I do love to share my knowledge, so if you are at all interested, come and join me next Saturday. We'll have fun, and I'll make sure you go home with new tools to use.