Disappointment and the everlasting bloom of HOPE

Yesterday I participated in my first ever #PBPitch on Twitter (a pitch day just for picture books).  I pitched a manuscript I’m very excited about (I think it has a ton of potential) to agents and editors reading these posts in great hope of its success.  To say I was anxious all day is an understatement.  To say I was disappointed when I didn’t get even a single nibble is yet another understatement.  I had to drop my plans for the day and get out of the house because I was driving myself crazy.  I met up with a friend and talked for a bit (which helped a lot).  Then I went to Barnes and Noble to read picture books. 

Why?  Because I needed inspiration.  I needed to be reminded WHY I’m doing what I’m doing.  (Plus I just really love to read picture books.)  And inevitably I found a picture book I thought was terrible (if THIS can get published, surely I can get published!).  I won’t mention names, as that’s not my point and I don’t think that would be kind to a fellow picture book writer.

But then I found 2 picture books that I thought were stunningly beautiful and cleverly written.  I share about one of them here: “Steamboat School” by Deborah Hopkinson.  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27169036-steamboat-school

It was a nonfiction story (a bit of a biography) about a tidbit of history I had never heard of before (and how I do LOVE those!).  But it was also a sneaky biography.  And it tied into the need for diverse books.  AND so beautifully written it was SHEER POETRY!  I cried.  I really did.  I cried over that book and all it represented (to me).

It’s a beautiful story of children determined to learn to read (something we generally take for granted these days).  Their determination and fierce spirit to fight a horrific law (banning them from learning to read simply because of the color of their skin) reminded me of the determination I need to have with my writing dreams.  I keep fighting and working hard and someday, I will see them come to fruition.  And this book, THIS BOOK, reminded me of what I aspire to do.  I aspire to get books into the hands of children (to give them a desire to read).  I aspire to inspire others.  I desire to write something THIS good.  And it gave me back my HOPE.  It handed me back my dream right there between two hardback covers filled with beauty.

Then I walked out to my car and discovered a frelling butterfly perched on my car window, precariously balancing in the wind from the 3 directions of traffic that surround the bookstore and my rubber frame above the door handle.  (I posted a picture on Instagram.)  HOW did it come to find me right there in the middle one of the busiest sections of the city?  And WHY did it choose MY car?  I’ll never know, but I took it as yet another sign of HOPE (as butterflies generally are symbolic for hope).

I am meant to do this.  I WILL see my dream come to pass eventually.  In the meantime, I will keep writing and practicing just like the little boy in the story who read street signs and tried to memorize the words (because that was all he had).  I need that kind of determination to see me through this.  I needed that book as a reminder.  Isn’t it amazing what one little picture book can do???

About jenabenton

I'm an elementary school teacher, writer, illustrator and storyteller.

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