I do! And I don’t think that is a particularly bad thing. Three years ago, when I decided to get serious about my writing, I applied for the Writing for Children’s course through the Children’s Literature Institute -an online course whose home base is in Redding, CT. I was nervous beyond nervous as I waited for feedback on each assignment. I found myself to be part indignant and part appreciative at times. Over the ten submissions I learned I am strong in descriptive writing and character development, overused passive verbs and didn’t get to the conflict soon enough. Qualities better suited for chapter books and not short stories. Well, that wasn’t so bad. I know I can’t write “short.” (Anyone who has ever had a conversation knows I can’t talk “short” either!)
Next, I joined a critique group. This was a huge step for me. I can be extremely shy around strangers. Now add the layer of reading out loud my writing…sheer panic set in on the first car ride! I had written and revised my first chapter. But would they like it?! I’ve worked hard at becoming a receptive set of ears instead of a defensive back when receiving comments from my group. Lucky for me, they are a fantastic group of ladies!
Most recently, I attended the New England Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators spring conference ( www.nescbwi.org. ) There was advice to be found at every turn! From the critique session, to the workshops, to casual conversations at lunch, everyone was willing to share ideas and give advice. I’m still new to this whole world of writing, but I became an advice sponge. Letting all the tidbits and words of wisdom soak in.
On the drive home, reflecting on the day, I couldn’t help thinking about other advice that enters my life on a daily basis. I realized I am not always the most appreciative and receptive advice receiver. But I have the power to change this. No teacher can get through a school year all on their own and no parent has all the right ideas. Advice is like a flower garden. It comes in many forms. Some is bright and bold, some is small and subtle. My job is to pick what I like the best!