Wednesday, January 12, 2011

avoiding the pressure

I was just scanning through the posts when I came across mine, and thought, "I didn't write that!" I got a little weirded out. Then I realized that it was the me in a time machine, going way back to 2006! Can you believe that? 5 years ago! Damn. Time is flying by and I'm aging rapidly. Or something like that. But anyway, if you look a few posts down you will see one about me talking about a bunch of different things, but on the list is what I would do if I won the Caldecott. I haven't had that Caldecott thought in a long, long time. Does that mean that I'm not a dreamer anymore? I don't know. I still dream, but not about that one. I have other dreams.

I just want to give a shout out to all of the youngins out there: don't put too much pressure on yourself! Do what you do best. Don't think about that top award. Chances are (and I don't say this to get you down or make you depressed) you won't win it. Yes, someone has to win it, but statistically speaking, you won't win. And yes, in my post way back in 2006 I said that I didn't expect to win and I really didn't but there was still that little glimmer of something. I don't know what. But you know what? Things come along when you don't expect them to. I got what I wanted for the most part. I have been recommended by the NYT, I've had my starred reviews, my ALA whatever it's called (I'm sorry, I really can't remember - brain drain), and so on. My point is that I think when you just DO then it will come. When you PUSH it might not. You might bomb. Or you might stress too much and end up DISAPPOINTED. I was just talking about this with my mom. I was talking about my latest book and the author's note and how much trouble I was having and she asked me why I was adding so much stuff and making it sound so boring to the ordinary person. I explained that I wanted to win a certain award and to do that I thought I should change the way I make books. I said "Well, the nonfiction books that win awards put more of this and that in and my books are very simple and..." She said that I was being ridiculous. She said if I wrote books for that purpose then I'll sound false. And you know what? She's right. So I started over. I'm never going to try go do that again. I promise! So what if I never win that award. And this year I didn't even realize when the award day had popped up... and I didn't care! I'm proud of what I've accomplished. I need to be happy with that.

I will continue to make books that I think (hope) kids will love. I will do the very best that I can and will push myself to find new subjects and improve, learn and grow on my own terms. I'm not going to add in this or that so that I can win an award or make my book seem more appealing to a librarian on a committee. I'm ashamed that I was even going to attempt it. That's all I can do. And for all you new people out there (and more experienced) don't fall pray to what I have. You will be a fool if you do.



Sarah said...

Moms are good for that sort of feedback. :)

Meghan McCarthy said...

You have no idea! I got really upset at my mom and wanted to explain why and got all teary-eyed (plus I was just so darn tired of rewriting the thing) but then I realized she was right. This is why I always show her my writing before submitting it. She gives me her most honest opinion! I might not want to hear it at first but I come around eventually.

Vince Stead said...
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