Saturday, April 2, 2016
On Becoming a Warrior For My Writing
In yoga class one day, while practicing Warrior 3, my teacher asked, “What are you a Warrior for?”
Interesting question. I’ve been eliminating pugilistic, militaristic words from my speech, especially when I’m talking about myself--words like “I’m struggling--;” “ I’m fighting--.” There is a power in language, and the way we phrase things has a lot to do with the way things show up in our lives. I don’t want my life to be a battle, a war, a minefield.
But warrior poses in yoga are powerful poses. I enjoy the challenge of them, balancing strength with softness. I couldn’t reject my teacher’s question out of hand.
What does it mean to be a warrior, and what am I a warrior for? If I took the war out of warrior what was I left with? It seems to me that warriors are fiercely passionate about a cause, willing to commit all their strength, energy, and prowess to something. I can feel that fierceness, that commitment as I concentrate on stepping into the pose, setting my feet in a firm foundation; searching for balance from the inside out; trusting the strength of my body to support me.
I decided that I am a warrior for my writing and my art and especially for my book, The Robin Makes A Laughing Sound: A Birder’s Journal. I love this book, a collection of bird observations told in poetry, sketches, lists, and journal entries. It has the look and feel of a journal/scrapbook. It’s an invitation to the reader to join in the creative process, observing and recording the world around us.
The Robin book earned a starred review from School Library Journal. It was chosen as an Outstanding Science Trade Book by the National Science Teachers Association. It received numerous online favorable reviews, but sales have been disappointing. It has not earned out its advance and is nearing out-of-print status. There are only a few hundred copies left in the warehouse.
I walked out of my yoga class determined to do whatever I can to bring this book out of obscurity. That night I received a call from Lin Oliver, Executive Director of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators: I had won the Jane Yolen Midlist Author grant. The award comes with some money. More importantly, it’s a vote of confidence in the value and quality of my work.
Relaunching my Book
To apply for the grant I had written a proposal to “relaunch” my Robin book. I wasn’t sure that you were allowed to relaunch a book—one shot was all you got, right? But I could not let this book fade into out-of-print status without a fight—okay, that’s a battle word. I really am prepared to be a warrior for this book. My proposal outlined a plan of action to reignite interest in the Robin book. My intention to be a warrior lit a fire in me. Receiving the grant reaffirmed my intentions.
After I hung up the phone and wiped the tears from my eyes, I set about doing some of the things I’d written in my proposal.
· I designed and printed a brochure that I have been handing out to teachers, librarians, birders, any and all interested persons; that describes my book and how to order it. I had the brochure ready in time to take it to the SCBWI International Conference in New York City in February.
· I taught a journal-making workshop to a group of home-schooled students. Included in the workshop price was a copy of the Robin book for each participant. I intend to line up more journal-making workshops. This is one of my favorite ways to share my artistic process and introduce my book.
· I have a notebook dedicated to ideas for spreading the word, and I am working my way through the list and adding more ideas.
Having taken on the intention to be a warrior for my work, I find I am able to speak about my book freely and reach out to people who might be interested. I say yes to all the opportunities presenting themselves. Whenever I become hesitant or tired of the marketing demands, I remind myself that I am a warrior for my work and my energy returns. I do not think it is a coincidence that I got Lin Oliver’s call the same day I said, out loud and to my teacher, “I am a Warrior for my book.”
Where do your passions lie? What are you a warrior for?
About the Author:
Wherever she goes, Sallie Wolf takes her journal, fountain pen, ink, and watercolors. These are the tools she uses to record the world she sees. Her journals are a combination of an anthropologist’s field notes, a writer’s notebook, and an artist’s sketchbook. Her children’s books grow out of these journals. The Robin Makes A Laughing Sound: A Birder’s Journal is a collection of bird observations told in poetry, lists, questions, notes, and sketches. Truck Stuck, was chosen by the Illinois Reading Council for their “Illinois Reads” program for 2015. Peter’s Trucks is a 2016 Illinois Reads choice. Sallie lives in Oak Park, IL. Learn more about Sallie’s writing and art, including The Moon Project, on her website. (http://www.salliewolf.com)
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