A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
Being A Published Writer Doesn’t Validate Me As a Person
So I always knew that happiness was self made and that any attempt to use outside sources to make me happy was a mistake. Food can’t make me happy, my family can’t make me happy, and having a novel published can’t make me happy. All these things can only add to a happiness that I alone am responsible for. But even though I knew this, I still secretly thought that getting published would make me happy. Like, literally fix everything else in my life. Of course it was stupid to think this way. Getting published was exciting and fun and a dream come true, but did it make me happy? No, it didn’t. What getting published did was validate me as a writer. I felt confident enough to start telling people that’s what I was doing when I went missing for hours at a time, but it didn’t solve every problem in my life. I’m still insecure about my ears, which stick out, and I cry when people are mean to me. The only way to be happy is to work hard at being happy just like the only way to be a good writer is to write well. End of.
The Joy of Getting Shortlisted for Awards is Fleeting
The Carnegie medal 2013. Getting shortlisted for this award and winning some others was awesome. It was amazing to hear that people liked my work. I puffed up a little bit, if I’m being honest. But you know what? No one is talking about me this year because it’s all about the Carnegie Medal 2014 now. What I’m learning is that any award glory is fleeting and I can’t live for it. My job is to write, to enjoy the process, and to do it well. Since getting some awards I’ve become much better at focusing on the doing bit and not so much on everyone else’s reactions to it. It’s the only way to write honestly. It’s the only way to stay sane.
People in Publishing are Real People Too
I had this strange notion that editors and publicists and agents and everyone else in the process would be stuck up, have journalists for parents, definitely have gone to private schools, and ultimately be way posher than me. The truth is that just like in every other profession, publishing is a mixed bag of people. Most in children’s publishing are lovely and it’s true that a lot are women, but what I now know is that some of them are like me – normal and just getting on with things, so there was never any need to be afraid of the publishing industry.
Deadlines Are Killers
“Deadline. Deadline. Deadline.” It’s all I ever say to anyone. “Sorry, I can’t come out for a beer, I’m on deadline.” “I’d love to be your bridesmaid but no, sorry, I’m on deadline.” “A beach holiday? Sounds perfect. Can I bring my laptop because I’m on deadline.” I always dreamed of having a publisher pining for my manuscript and hassling me to deliver it. That was before I got a contract and realised that being on deadline sort of means that every other part of your life gets put on hold. When you get a contract it’s real and legally binding and even though you’d much rather sit and watch “Breaking Bad” or sip fermented grapes with your mates, you’re actually in a basement instead. You’re in a basement with wide eyes and shuddering from the certainty that you are absolutely, one hundred percent, going to miss your deadline.
This Is What I Want to do Forever
The main thing I’ve learnt since getting published is that I can do it and not only can I do it but I want to do it forever because it’s what I love. Even more than before, I wake up buzzing with the excitement of knowing I get to spend all day with words. That’s corny, I know, but I don’t care. Since getting published I’ve worked out that getting published again and again and again is all I ever want to do.
Sarah Crossan writes novels for children and teens. Her debut novel in verse, The Weight of Water, was shortlisted for the Carnegie medal in 2013. Breathe was nominated for the Carnegie medal in 2014. Before writing full time, Sarah worked as an English teacher. She grew up in Ireland and England and then moved to New York, where she lived for seven years. She now lives in Hertfordshire with her family where she spends most of her day writing, sipping green tea and eating far too many biscuits.