As an aspiring writer of YA fiction, I’ve thought about blogging for a while. It’s a no-brainer when you consider that agents and editors are reported to be heavy readers of kidlit blogs. There are even stories of people who’ve had an agent come to them after reading their blog. As Greg Pincus said in his presentation at the Kidlit Blogging Conference in Portland this weekend, you have to set yourself up to take advantage of the “happy accident”. I was glad he said that, because up ’till then I was feeling like a poser being one of the few “pre-published” authors at the conference. Turns out I’m ahead of the game.
So now that we’ve established the blogging is a Good Thing for a wannabe author, the question is, what to post? I’ve been told you need to be compelling. You need to write about something heartfelt, something that will keep the reader coming back. Humor is always a plus. No pressure there.
So, should I write about the Kidlit Conference, which was totally amazing? I had no idea the “kidlitosphere” existed, and I certainly didn’t know the scope of it. Turns out there’s this whole, virtual world of authors, reviewers, teachers and librarians who are in the business of promoting kids’ books and encouraging children to read. It’s a marketing treasure trove for writers trying to find a home for their books. The most incredible thing about the conference was the energy it created. I came away with all these references to look up, all these new ideas to try, all these books to read. There was almost a manic-ness to it, a feeling of frenzy, and—for a beginner—an overwhelming sense of discovery. It’s that experience you have when you first start to learn about a subject. You know there’s an order to it, but you haven’t figured it out yet. You have questions, but you can’t ask them, because you don’t know what to ask. The fortunate thing about all this is that as you learn a bit here and there the big picture starts to form, then you get that “ah ha!” moment when it all falls into place.
But enough about that. Others have done a much more comprehensive job of reviewing the conference. People who fully understand what the kidlitosphere is. Maybe I should write about my personal life, instead. My ego-crushing struggle to find an agent who recognizes the marketing potential of a YA novel about stock car racing. Let’s face it, most agents are in New York, which is not exactly the hotbed of Southern, blue-collar culture. I’ve actually had agents tell me, “Sorry, I have no interest in stock car racing”. Hello, ever hear of NASCAR dads? The media wouldn’t create a stereotype if there wasn’t a demographic to back it up.
Now I suppose these agents could be rejecting me because my writing totally sucks, and I’m not the most unbiased person when it comes to judging my own work, so my opinion is undoubtedly somewhat circumspect. However, I’ve been told by several people that I have some level of skill at stringing words together. I try to remind myself that it’s just a matter of finding the right fit, and that Stephen King was rejected…blah, blah, blah. Actually, if one more person tells me how many times Stephen King was rejected I’ll probably flog myself to death with his latest manuscript. Or maybe I should just use a copy of Breaking Dawn. At 754 pages it’s likely to bring a swifter demise.
If my experiences as an author put people to sleep, I could always talk about my business, landscape maintenance. Work is slow right now, but there’s plenty to do in my own yard—my “display garden” as the IRS has come to know it. The weather’s perfect for working outside. Western Oregon is magnificent this time of year. Warm, golden sunshine and a sky so blue it slices straight through the crap of everyday existence and leaves you staring in awe, sucked back to your primal connection to the earth. The Kidlit attendants got a real treat visiting in late September. At least those who were able to escape the alternating arctic cold and locker-room-after-a-game stuffiness of the Sheraton’s windowless conference rooms.
Hmm, whaddaya know, 718 words. Looks like I’ve got my first post.