Happy 2022 + a review of last year

Happy New Year!

Last year was my first year of turning my hand to writing for children. I’ve always been a writer – blogs, academic ‘stuff’, poetry, even zines – but 2021 was my official first year where I not only began a new type of writing, but decided that a) I loved it, and b) I was going to do this ‘properly’.

In the first lockdown I really started to look at what made me happy, and this is the result.

I joined the SCBWI and braved my first critique group. Of course, I needn’t have been worried – like most of the writing community, my group are helpful, supportive and generally lovely. I have learned so much and improved my craft from attending whenever possible (and by, of course, reading tons of books).

I started querying probably far too early, but it certainly got me used to thinking about how to pitch my work and formulating a good query letter. It also threw me into the fires of rejection, which I think is probably a good thing. I have a pretty thick skin these days.

I’m happy to say that last year I had a few things happen that I’d count as successes, and I’d like to document them here so I can take stock and feel positive about where I am.

  1. A small publisher described my submission as the strongest they’d ever had, and passed reluctantly due to having a similar title in the works. They really were very complimentary and this gave me an excellent boost.
  2. In my second round of querying, I was asked for more work by two agents. Both ended up ultimately passing, but not without some very encouraging and kind words. My voice ‘is strong’, my writing is ‘solid’ and ‘marketable’. Could round three be the one?
  3. I was longlisted for the Searchlight Awards for my bedtime story, The Dream Moth. I didn’t make the shortlist, but received some wonderful feedback on my story and I’m proud to have made the top 20 out of hundreds of entries internationally.

Since I last queried, I’ve started writing in rhyme. It seems to suit me down to the ground, and while I know it’s risky – what with the whole difficulty in translating – I feel like I’ve found my strongest voice yet.

One of my rhyming stories is currently entered into Writing Magazine’s Picture Book Prize judged by prolific and generally wonderful writer Amy Sparkes and top agent Julia Churchill. I await the results with interest. I would love to begin querying again in Spring with my rhyming texts – we shall see.

I’m booked on to Amy Sparkes’ “Why Being A Writer Stinks… And What You Can Do About It” course at the end of this month. It’s for a great cause and think it might give me the motivation I need going into this year.

Finally, thanks to all the writing community on Twitter for being so welcoming and supportive in my first year. I feel like I’ve found ‘what I’m supposed to be doing’. Here’s to 2022.