Evelyn B. Christensen



The Big Acceptance!

The Big Acceptance! Aha! I bet you thought this article was going to be about getting that important phone call or envelope from your dream agent or publisher. Wrong. This is about another kind of acceptance altogether. This is about learning to accept ourselves as the writers we are, each with our own unique talents, strengths, weaknesses, and interests. This kind of acceptance can be as long in coming as the other kind, and for some of us just as difficult to accomplish. If you're the talented kind of writer who can write in every genre with wonderful success or if you're an author who's perfectly content with what you write, you don't need to read any further. For the rest of us the situation is different.

When we authors come to the world of children's writing we discover that the opportunities for writing are immense. There are picture books, easy readers, chapter books, and novels; for magazines there are articles, stories, crafts, puzzles, quizzes, activities; spanning either of these there are choices between fiction and non-fiction; and, of course, there's also poetry. I'm sure you can think of even more additions to the list and sub-categories within the categories.

Not every author can write in all these genres, and not every author wants to. Some people know exactly what they want to do from the start, they have the talent to do it, and they spend their time doing just that. For others of us, we may try one thing for a while, then switch to something else, then explore a third option, go back and forth between earlier options as our muse strikes us and as market opportunities become available, and then try something else new altogether.

It's good to be open to new possibilities. It strengthens us as writers when we're willing to try something different. Sometimes we also discover how much fun an area can be we've never explored before. When I first started interacting on a children's writer forum I had written only educational puzzle books and a few articles for professional journals. I kept reading posts on the forum about people getting acceptances from various children's magazines. It sounded interesting. I decided to try it, and I liked it!

There may be areas, however, that certain writers know are not for them. I know, for example, that I will never write a novel. I don't have the talent for it. (And I have almost as little talent for writing articles about writing--this one is just because Jan asked for it!) Other areas may be ones which hold no interest for the author. You may be a person who knows for certain you'd never want to write puzzles. I rarely enjoy doing research, so I know most non-fiction is not an area for me.

All this is fine. The problem can come when we're dissatisfied as authors with what we're doing. Even the dissatisfaction can be good if it leads us to do something constructive to improve such as taking a writing course or joining a critique group. But if we're already doing everything we know to improve and we're feeling dissatisfied, we may need to take a good hard look at our Self-Acceptance Quotient.*

We need to accept that we have many wonderful talents, even if none of the picture books we've written ever gets published. If we write only for children's magazines we need to recognize that writing for children's magazines is a wonderful gift we give to the children of the world, even if we post our good news on our favorite writers' forum and almost nobody congratulates us. Not all of us can be J.K. Rowling and write Harry Potter books, but we can all find joy in our writing. May that joy be the foundation which underlies our ability to accept ourselves as the unique, special writers each of us are.

*This word doesn't have any particular meaning here; I just had to throw in at least one math word because I'm a math person. :)

Published online at Kid Magazine Writers, April 2008, and on the Institute of Children's Literature website, October 2008.
Copyright 2009 Evelyn B. Christensen
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