Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Why yes ma'am I can write an essay about that. I can write an essay about anything...

My final assignment was returned in the post today - an essay on why (or why not) poetry from the past is relevant to today's children. I had started it in plenty of time before the deadline but every time I approached it, the topic got away from me and my thoughts ran all over the place and refused to hold hands in a circle. Finally on the way home from dropping my daughter off at some after school thing I had an epiphany. I emailed my tutor and asked if I could get the essay in a few days late. The rubbish I had already written wasn't going to wash. I needed to start again and take a different tack. The age of the poetry wasn't what mattered. It was the poetry itself. What was it about successful poetry for children that made it successful? The essay nearly wrote itself. I wracked my brain for the rules about referencing and bibliography that I had used during earlier university courses and went through the process. I am very happy to report I got an A+. Essay writing, like fiction writing, needs the right idea. Find the right approach and it falls out on the page almost fully formed. And when you have hit on the right idea, you know its the one. My earlier attempts had felt awkward and uncomfortable. Even though I ended up using a lot of the same material, I now had focus and cohesion and everything fell into place and made sense. Just three more papers to go. Next year I think I'll have a go at the research paper. I've been nervous about doing this one but I think I have to do it before I can move on to the others. I feel like I can do it now. I can essay the heck out of just about anything.

And its about time we had some more juicy links. My mantra is always 'be polite and professional.' You can do a lot of brave and bold things as long as you are polite and professional. Following up with publishers is less scary and more fruitful if you are polite and professional. In fact everything is more fruitful if you are polite and professional. Everyone likes to be treated well and with respect. And its not just me saying it. Nicola Morgan over at Help! I Need a Publisher agrees. Although I am not sure I agree with the statement
Always wear a suit when preparing your submission. If you wear pyjamas, they will see. :) 
If you write for children not only are pyjamas the right choice, your slippers should be animal themed or extremely fluffy.

Nicola also has an excellent post on praise. I adore praise (I also adore chocolate) but praise is never without strings attached. Make sure you know where all the strings lead back to and what this means about the praise and the thing praised. 

Last but not least I would like to draw your attention to this. It is a sobering read but also hopeful. Yes publishing can be an unfair place. It may not be you or the quality of your work that is the reason you have been rejected. Keep believing in yourself and try again.

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