In this age of quick fixes and instant gratification, an important virtue and spiritual skill is being lost. PATIENCE. If there is no immediate reward, there is little interest. The ego, which thrives on instant gratification, silences the spirit, which knows that anything worthwhile, anything of real value – like love, healing, enlightenment, character building, raising children, etc. – requires patience.
And so it is with writing. It’s a journey. A journey that requires not only patience, but perseverance, and passion. The three Ps of writing, I like to call them. My own personal “formula” for success:
Patience + Perseverance + Passion = Publication
I wanted to be a nurse when I grew up. But I soon discovered that I couldn’t stand the sight of blood. Or needles. So I decided to become a jockey instead. I was crazy about horses and loved to ride. But by age nine, I had grown too tall to be a jockey. So I decided to be a teacher. Teachers can be tall. And lucky for me, writers can be tall, too!
Throughout my life, writing has been a source of joy and empowerment for me. My first grade teacher asked me to read one of my stories to the PTA. It was about a little girl named Sally who painted herself and her dog with red lipstick. My teacher’s recognition of my humble attempts fueled my confidence and nurtured the seed that I’d been born with. In my 9th grade autobiography I wrote: “My greatest interests lie in writing, and helping others live a better life.” In college, my creative writing professor, award-winning playwright, Mark Medoff, wrote on one of my manuscripts: “A nicely conceived bonbon. Should you ever decide to devote the time to it, I think you could make a writer. You have a very fine natural voice.” I sometimes wonder if these teachers have any idea how much their encouragement helped to shape my future.
After I had children, the thread of destiny slowly began to weave itself into a tapestry. Disappointed by many of the books I read to my kids, I decided that this might be an arena in which I could, possibly, make a contribution. So I began to write. My muse was excited to be back on that “giant imaginary playground” I’d enjoyed so much as a child. But being a mom of two very young girls by day and a teacher at night left little time to pursue my passion. Especially after I became a single mom! I had moments of absolute desperation, and often felt that I might be crushed by the weight of the responsibility I had. I even fantasized about robbing a bank to deliberately land me in prison – just for some uninterrupted writing time – so I could have half a chance to fulfill my destiny. And provide my children with the life they deserved.
After collecting over 135 rejection slips on various manuscripts, I finally received the news that I’d been dreaming of for so many years. My first book, Louella Mae, She’s Run Away! was accepted in 1994. I have sold 18 books since then, and have many, many more in various stages of development.
I can honestly say that I have given my heart and soul (and then some!) to this career. Not for fame. Nor fortune. Nor any other ego-based pursuit. My spirit thrives on the fact that I am able to contribute positively to children’s lives through my books and author presentations. The rewards, most visible from an inner, soul perspective, have been worth the effort. But without patience, I could never have hoped to prevail.
My latest picture book, Wild About Us!, illustrated by Janet Stevens, just released in April. Through comparisons with his zoo animal friends, Warty Warthog delivers a powerful message about the inherent beauty in each and every one of us. My next book, Crybaby, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin, comes out in August. It’s a comical, cumulative tale that celebrates family, and reminds us all that it really does take a village to raise a child!
My final bit of advice? Never give up! EVER! Trust that your deep desire to write is rooted in the world’s need to hear your voice. Honor that. Be courageous enough to be true to your calling. With patience, perseverance, and passion, you, too, WILL prevail! I wish you all the luck in the world!
Disclaimer: To avoid influencing impressionable minds in any unintentional way, perhaps it’s best not to share my “bank robber” anecdote with youngsters. I wouldn’t want them to misinterpret the fantasy vs. reality aspect of my experience.
KAREN BEAUMONT is known for her lively and celebratory picture books, including I Like Myself! and the New York Times best-seller I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More!, both illustrated by David Catrow, as well as No Sleep for the Sheep!, illustrated by Jackie Urbanovic. She lives in Northern California. For more information, visit www.karenbeaumont.com. Click here to learn more about Wild About Us.
- This giveaway is for a copy of Wild About Us. Many thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for donating a copy for one reader.
- For a chance to win this copy of Wild About Us, please leave a comment about this post by Wednesday, June 10th at 11:59 p.m. EDT. I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winners, whose names I will announce at the bottom of this post, by Friday, June 12th.
- Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win. From there, my contact at HMH will ship your book out to you. (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field only.)
- If you are the winner of the book, I will email you with the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS – WILD ABOUT US. Please respond to my e-mail with your mailing address within five days of receipt. Unfortunately, a new winner will be chosen if a response isn’t received within five days of the giveaway announcement.