Laura Clement - Featured Author March 2018

Tending to Your Creative Garden

First, let me say “Thank you, 12 x 12,” to Julie and Kelli for this opportunity to give back to this writing community. 12 x 12 is a beautiful place with constant support. A truly fantastic tribe of people, who are a constant source of inspiration.

Now, I want you all to think about something-your energy and purpose.  Think about what YOU bring to your garden/writing.  And how, someone who nurtures life with creative work is as vitally important as the work itself.

It is important that first you prepare your soil and plot your garden. Take your time before planting, watering, fertilizing or even picking your seeds.  Relax in the thought and creative process, take care for yourself as much as you can before you care for your plants.

Gardening, like writing is something we do because we love creating.  For each of us, encouraging beauty in this world, especially for children of any age, is the highest purpose.  But creating is never easy or simple. There can be many rainy, cold days full of weeds and rejections.  They will pass, you will someday be able to sit back and look a beauty, you created.

My creative garden began at an early age with poetry. But, as I aged my garden changed, I expanded my plant footprint with exotic colors-a master’s thesis on Jungian theory and Celtic Mythology woven together in a MG novel.  When my garden needed more diversity, I expanded out into picture books.   This addition started to take shape about ten years ago. During that time, I have learned and planted a lot of seeds — finished, unfinished manuscripts and story ideas.

Not all seeds bloom nor thrive. But gardening like writing, works best when patience is practiced.  I discovered No matter how much weeding you do there will always be “Oops flowers,” “What was I thinking thorns,” and my favorite, “Painful crimson embarrassment plants.”   Not every day in the garden is fun.

In my garden now, I have some flowers in full bloom.  My debut Picture Book, Egg, is a fresh look at the ugly duckling story.  An adventurous tale about a dragon and her search for greatness.  And next , Q, (published Spring 2018) about a little girl full of spirit but no words, trying to her place in the world.

Being an active gardener, tending to its weeds, seeds, water, light and soil, (editing, critiquing, reading, idea storming, attending conferences) helped me find my first, Yes in Egg with Clear Fork Publishing. Because REMEMBER IT ONLY TAKES ONE FLOWER or YES to have achieved.

My first yes arrived after a one-on-one with an art director at an SCBWI event. Ironically, she was the only person who still had slots open and I’m not a graphic artist, but I was hungry for feedback.  Please know, I am not an artist.  But I took this opportunity seriously and rolled up my sleeves and made a dummy, per her request. We met. I was frustrated.  She talked about my art… then at the end of our 10-minute session she said, “Now I get it. Let’s talk more, later.” She very generously set aside 15 minutes of Skype time. 15 minutes turned into an hour. We discussed page turns, talked about what to leave out and overall presentation.  And, in the end Egg felt solid and read well.

Next, a critique partner, the fabulous Maria Marshall, alerted me to an open submission opportunity.  I sent in my new Egg manuscript and within a day I received an email, then a phone call, then a contract.  Then, the opportunity to send more manuscripts.  Callie soon fell in love with my Q, and offered me another contract. After that, I was able to suggest an illustrator, Sunny Choi. I immediately fell in love with her work. And luckily, she immediately fell in love with my Egg. Working with Sunny is magic and a gift I will cherish always.

Things I have learned:

  • Don’t let “NO!” or “This business is subjective, I like your story. I just don’t LOVE it.” Don’t let those voices ever stop you. You write because you love it.  You write because you have to, to feel whole.  You write because it creates beauty in your life. So, keep writing.
  • Take moments to be silly and let creativity, unfettered by your “goals” inspire you. Listen to YOU. These are your stories. You can always improve upon the technique, but don’t ever lose the heart of why and for whom you are writing.
  • Admit self-doubt. Look it straight in the eye and realize, sure, it might be there, it might never go away, but you are so much more than IT.  I suck at grammar.  I’m dyslexic. But I love to write. Never let your hurdles stop you.
  • Go to conferences. Have a critique group(s).  Expand your tribe.
  • Ask questions.
  • LISTEN- really listen to what your tribe has to say. Wait before speaking, before defending. Just LISTEN.
  • Take courses, visit webinars, but never stop writing.
  • Learn to love to edit. Think of editing like weeding (yeah, I know, who loves weeding) shift your paradigm, think of it less like being in the weeds and more like an adventure, a treasure hunt.  You may find something really beautiful buried under layers of thistles or hairy crabgrass.
  • READ LOTS! Find the books that speak to you. Get to know them really well. Figure out WHY they speak to you.
  • READ LOTS MORE! Find the books that the children in your life love.  Get to know them really well.  Figure out WHY they speak to the kids.
  • Take walks, breaks, when you need them. Refresh to let your compass find your north.
  • Go forward when it feels right. And “Right” might not look like what you thought.  I signed my first contract, then second with a small publisher.  This has turned out to be a beautiful thing.  I have contact with my story through the whole process.  And, I have an amazing relationship with my illustrator.  Not what I imagined, but right for me, in this time and space.

Now, on to the 12 x 12 “Miracle Grow” portion for YOU, a gift from one Gardener to another.

This month’s winner will receive my book EGG, and also a Direct Submission opportunity with my publisher, Clear Fork Publishing.  The winner and I will spend a little time picking out the right manuscript for submission being sure to do any necessary last-minute touch ups, then I will forward it directly to Callie Melter-Smith.

I can promise, if nothing else, she will give you good feedback and answer your questions.

I wish you much love and luck as you cultivate your creative garden.

Laura N. Clement lives in Seattle, WA with her husband and daughter.  She loves art, adventures-big or small, and the company of good people and animals. When she is not writing, Laura spends her time supporting kids with learning disabilities and cultivating growth in her small but well loved herb garden.

You can find out more about EGG or Q by visiting- https://www.clementcreations.net/ or http://clementcreations.blogspot.com/

This Post Has 375 Comments

  1. Thanks for your thoughtful post. Gardens and gardening are a great metaphor for keeping at the creative work of writing. Especially refreshing at this time of year! Thanks!

  2. Laura – Thank you for sharing your story and your process. I enjoyed reading your post and learned from it too. Also, there were many things I could relate to, including “Not all seeds bloom nor thrive,” “Not every day in the garden is fun,” and “For each of us, encouraging beauty in this world, especially for children of any age, is the highest purpose.” Congratulations on EGG and Q and best wishes with all your writing…and gardening!

  3. I so relate to your post. In my mind, stories are gardens grown from the seeds of ideas, watered with love, and nourished with knowledge.
    Congratulations on your upcoming books! I look forward to reading them!

  4. How totally true that not every seed blooms or thrives — and those that do take the work of writing and the patience of a bloom at the right point in the life cycle. Thanks, Laura.

  5. Love the gardening metaphor!
    Love the title ‘Egg’!
    Love hearing people’s success stories 🙂

  6. Laura,

    Your garden analogy is brilliant! As a gardener, your words of wisdom hit home for me.
    I look forward to reading both EGG and Q. And thank you and Callie Melter-Smith for the chance and opportunity, thoughtful and generous.

  7. We are far from sprouting time here (2 more months of freeze warnings…) but I love the Miracle Grow metaphor! I keep returning to your mantra: listen, and write, and do more, and write, and read, and write. Words I must keep hearing!

  8. Thanks for sharing your personal journey of cultivating stories, Laura. Feeling that optimistic glow rekindling right when I needed it.

  9. Wow! This post was jam packed with advice and inspiration! And what fantastic prize giveaway to boot! Thank you so much for sharing your journey and advice and for the generous prize. I look forward to reading EGG and Q!

  10. Wow, what an opportunity! Editing like weeding…yes. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the weeds from the flowers–often the weeds can be beautiful, but they just don’t belong there. Thanks for the great post!

  11. Your story is very encouraging. I’m working on loving to weed! It’s something I’m always striving to be better at. Thanks for your post!

  12. Laura, I loved the garden metaphor for writing. What a great fit! Thanks for all your encouragement and I can’t wait to read your books.

  13. Thank you for the gardening analogy and sharing your publishing story. I am not a gardener, except a few herbs and flowers on my city balcony, but I uunderstand the weeding, watering, and selecting process. Your idea of having a one on one with an art director was eye opening, and worked well for you. I am going to remember that and all your notes on things you learned. I needed to read those today.

  14. I can’t wait to meet who is in the EGG! Congratulations on your debut book about to hatch! Thanks for your words of wisdom; ok lets go weed, oh I mean write!

  15. Hello Laura & PNW neighbor!

    🌼I’m new to this world of writing for children’s PB. I find it both exciting and overwhelming. It’s people like you that come along and inspire me. Your beautiful written message here for us in 12X12 , especially your personal journey is another great pick me up.
    Thank you Laura for all you insights and wisdom.
    I’m looking forward to your webinar🌼

    Much Appreciation,
    Dianne Boatsman of Kelso, WA

  16. Lots of ‘oops flowers’ and weeding here! I can’t wait to read Egg. Thanks for a fun and encouraging post.

  17. Great post, Laura! I love your gardening metaphor! I find that I do my best thinking while puttering around in the garden. I have worked out many problems while thinning carrots or tying up tomatoes. Thank you and Callie Melter-Smith for your very generous offer to submit a story to Clear Fork Publishing.

  18. Thanks for this post full of inspiration! I love the idea of “‘Right’ might not look like what you thought.” Congratulations on EGG and Q!

  19. Wow! So much helpful advice and wonderful words of encouragement. I hope my gardening thumb is a little more green in the world of writing than it is in my actual garden!;) Thanks for sharing your journey.

  20. Thank you for this inspiring piece of experience and advice! I could definitely connect with the gardening metaphor as well. I used to have a big vegy garden and many flower beds in Manitoba where I am from…Now living in British Columbia we don’t have a big yard BUT we have an incredible forest. This is the place I do my thinking-writing-new ideas creating-revisions-relaxing-and finding peace in my heart. All around me nature has been creating and building on those creations…I am inspired everyday when I am among the trees.

    Your positive attitude and encouraging words about endurance and perseverance resonated with me today. Thank you!

    The 12 x 12 community changes our world for the better, one day at a time, one blog post, one webinar, one interview , one something special every day…thank you!

  21. Laura, what an inspiring post! I have had lots of weeds in my real garden, and I know it takes tender, loving care to make it grow and blossom into something beautiful. It’s time to weed through my writing garden!

  22. Would it be too weird to share that I love pulling weeds? For me, it’s cathartic. That’s not to say I love revisions; however, isn’t it fulfilling when a critique can clear those darn weeds, giving your story a chance to breathe without weeds obscuring the view?

  23. I love this post, Laura. I’ve never like weeding and I sometimes struggle with revisions…hmmm, that explains a lot! Thanks for the encouraging words!

  24. Laura, it’s been fun finding tresures among the grasses with you. EGG was a sweet,precious story from the start. The perfect book for Spring and Easter. Congrats! I am looking forward to seeing Q. Great post 🌹

  25. What a lovely piece, and such a generous gesture to arrange for a submission opportunity with your publisher. Thank you for these reminders to work, listen, persevere and be thankful. And to be ready for your luck to come along.

  26. Thank you! I have lots of seeds planted. Your post reminded me of the Frog and Toad story , where Toad shouts, “Now seeds, start growing!”

  27. Thanks so much for mentioning self-doubt in your blog post. I think most creative people struggle with this, at least at some times.

  28. I love the gardening analogy. And your advice to “listen” as others critique your work. Sometimes that’s really hard to do, but it is really important to consider how others hear your work. Thanks!!

  29. Hi Lauria! Thank you for such an inspiring post. Can’t wait to read about your dragon and Q. Carole calladine

  30. Great encouragement, Laura. This was my favorite part: “I suck at grammar. I’m dyslexic. But I love to write.” Perseverance with passion wins!

  31. I love your gardening analogies! And you’re so right – this writing business takes as much time, patience, and attention as raising a garden. Thank you for reminding us of that.

  32. Wow. There is just so much wisdom and wonderful in this post. Thank you. I had never heard writing compared to gardening before and although I am not a gardener, I still enjoyed the perspective. And the bullet points on the end – I feel like we should all print those out and re-read them often. Your enthusiasm is infectious and I really appreciated your post. Thank you.

  33. Thank you Laura! This is such an inspiring, calming, practical post. I appreciate the reassurance to keep on writing!
    Congratulations on your two books!

  34. Oh, what an adorable illustration to end your post with!

    I especially like the idea that not all seeds become flowers. Reminding myself that half-finished manuscript attempts or lists of ideas are still part of the creative garden . . . Thanks for a great post!

  35. Laura, your post is timely for me. I’m in a LOW of discouragement right now, thinking of giving up. This happens now and again, but this time I just can’t see beyond where I am. Your words are encouraging, hopeful. I don’t think I’m quite ready to walk away yet because of the stories I have to tell, so I thank you for sharing the things you’ve learned.

  36. The garden concept works very well for writing and editing, finally publishing or harvesting. I am so glad you shared your need for others in your process and for being willing to listen and follow their advise. The small publishers have made possible the sharing of your books. Kudos to all.

  37. Laura,I love the gardening analogy, especially the “oops flowers” and the “embarrassment plants.” Offering to let your publisher see one of our manuscripts is beyond a golden opportunity. Thank you for sharing your journey, encouraging reminders and this opportunity. Thank you for sharing writing love.

  38. I had just brought home seeds and plant babies from the nursery when I read your beautiful post. It truly spoke to the writer and gardener in me. The connection between those two sides of my creativity was hidden until you unveiled it for me. That new insight is truly a precious gift! Thank you!

  39. Ha! I love how you compare writing to gardening. I agree, with one small addition. A dose of “organic fertilizer” can really boost your yields. ;-}

  40. I love the idea of planting a garden of creative thoughts and the ones that don’t turn out . Thank you for this inspirational post
    “Oops flowers,” “What was I thinking thorns,” and my favorite, “Painful crimson embarrassment plants.” Not every day in the garden is fun.

  41. I loved the garden metaphor too. And what a good reminder of how much work may have to be done before that first sale. I’m not a patient person naturally, so this is something that’s been hard for me to learn.

  42. Thank you so much Laura Clement! You have really inspired me, remembering that to write to enjoy the process of creativity is reward enough, and to tend to that creative garden is our passion, it is not the harvest or critique from others that matters most, as we do this for pleasure first and foremost. You are the first author I have read openly discussing being dyslexic, which I am too, and you really spoke to me. Even before learning you are dyslexic, as you spoke to my soul.

  43. What a wonderful post! Your encouraging words and helpful advice are just what I needed to hear. Thank you, Laura!

  44. Thank you for a great post, Laura! I especially love the editing as weeding advice. I’m always happy to find more ways to wrap my head around the best ways to edit as I transfer what I can do with picture books to longer MG novels. Of course, I’m also learning how to weed at the same time (city kid who finally has a garden!). Hopefully, my novel and my plants will grow together 🙂

  45. Thank you for the clever post and gardening analogy Laura! It is so tempting to want to rush and get to where we are going/want to go, but your words have inspired me to try and enjoy the process (stop and smell the roses a little more). 🙂 Congratulations on Egg and Q! I can’t wait to read them.

  46. All great advice. I just recently received a rejection — a standard form letter one, at that. I’m trying to picture it as just a rainy day in the garden with the sun perhaps on it’s way tomorrow.

  47. I’m staring out my window at the melting snow and dreaming of gardening! I can’t wait, but until then I’ll be tilling up plenty of new ideas to write about. Thanks for the inspirational blast of spring.

  48. Laura, I love the metaphor of gardening. Gardens are very personal things – just like the stories we write and when they ‘bloom’ they are for all to see/read so they are both personal and public as is writing. Great post!

  49. While I don’t have much of a green thumb in gardening, I hope my writing garden grows as I tend it more.

    Thank you for sharing. Congrats on Egg!

  50. Loved this post. My grandchildren love Pete the Cat. I’ve plenty of time to analyze what is appealing.

  51. I love that you signed up with a pb dummy even though you are not an artist. And that it worked out so well. 🙂 Egg looks like a fun, fresh twist. Congratulations!

  52. Hi Laura! This was such amazing advice! I love thinking of our writing like a garden, and to try to enjoy even the “weeding” parts. It was so great to read about your journey, and the tips on remembering why we love to write so much. Congrats on Egg and Q! It’s so wonderful to be a part of the Clear Fork family with you. 🙂

  53. Thank you for your encouraging post. It got me thinking about where my creativity comes from and how I can better nurture it.

  54. I love your garden analogy. I love gardening–and often learn from my mistakes there. And as a kindergarten teacher, I love the analogy of writing and gardening especially in regards to children’s writing–because they are like plants that need lots of nurturing, time and space to grow strong and healthy. Congratulations on your books, too!

  55. Love the metaphor of weeding and revisions. While weeding can sometimes be a pain, sometimes it can be therapeutic and helps the garden really shine — just like editing and revising. Then when your done you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.

  56. Thanks Laura, for the idea that my flowers might already be here, just covered in thistles and crab-grass! Off to do some more weeding…

  57. Laura – I loved the language you used in this post – “painful crimson embarrassing plants” ! I’ve had a few of those, and expect more, but I also love tending my little garden of writing, weeds and all. Thank you for the inspiration and encouragement, and congratulations on Egg and Q!

  58. Thank you Laura for sharing your process. Egg looks lovely. And thanks for the great opportunity with your publisher.

  59. Wow! I loved your “Things I’ve learned” list. Every single one spoke to me. Thank you for your generosity in sharing your insights with the 12×12 tribe. It is so helpful to not feel alone in this creative journey!

  60. Thank you so much for all your wisdom on writing. I loved the likeness to gardening you used in your post.
    I found so much to take away from your post this month and will print out the post and remind myself how and where you went with your ideas and your step into the right paid critique. My only question was where you found this illustrator that they let you pick? Thanks so much.

  61. Wow! What a generous prize you are offering! Thank you for sharing your inspiring publishing journey and for the encouragement to keep cultivating the creativie work in our lives. I look forward to reading your books 🙂

  62. Laura, your gardening metaphor is a beautiful way to think about our writing. Time to dig up some old ideas, weed some current ones and see if they can get growing!

  63. Laura,
    Thank you for the inspiration. I actually like weeding – because I like to see order to the garden, but since I am not a gardener, I don’t always know what to take out and what to keep in. Oddly enough, that is the same way with my writing. 🙂

    Congratulations on your book and best of luck as you continue to plant and cultivate your garden of words!

    Colleen

  64. What an inspiring story! And a fabulous and apt analogy. Thank-you, Laura, for taking the time to prepare this wonderful post to help us all continue our journey through the garden.
    Liz

  65. I love the garden metaphor, and I too, garden as well. Although weeding, like revising and editing seems like a chore, I have learned that the process of revision and editing makes my writing stronger. Thank you, Laura, for a thoughtful post.

  66. Wow! This couldn’t have had better timing. Two days ago I decided to start doing more for myself. My garden needed some serious tending.

  67. Thanks for the inspiration! I love hearing other people’s journey to publication. I can’t wait to read EGG.

  68. Thank you for your encouraging words. I’m new at this so any analogy to help me see the process creatively helps.

  69. Not all seeds bloom or thrive. So true! I just got a rejection note. I’m thankful for the rejection note and thankful for your kind words to keep writing and moving forward.

  70. This was inspiring and encouraging. Not letting the voice of rejection win is a struggle currently. thank you.

  71. Thank you Laura. It was encouraging to hear how all those years of working on picture book seeds finally paid off. Congratulations!

  72. Thank you for this most encouraging way to look at process and purpose–and, congratulations on your newest seedlings and saplings! I think your title “Egg” also works for this metaphor as it is the birth of something new, great, and full of potential! I’m looking forward to reading it:)

  73. Thank you for this lovely comparison to gardening. It really is true! I like your advice on waiting until the time is right and making sure to listen. It’s always a work in progress for me with the listening quietly..,

    Best of luck to you!

  74. Patience and care- just like a garden! Thanks for sharing your insights, and encouraging us all to keep steadily at it. <3

  75. Thank you for all your insight and encouragement! It’s so hard sometimes not to let those rejections and negative voices get you down — thanks for the reminder to ignore them and keep focused on doing what we love!

  76. What a great story! And the gardening imagery was helpful. Sometimes I give myself a hard time for the fallow seasons…but sometimes, creation needs periods of quiet to replenish for the busy times. Good stuff.

  77. Thank you for this motivating post. I’ve been reminding myself recently to focus on the writing that I love – this was a great reminder of that. I can’t wait to read Egg!

  78. Thank you, Laura. Stories of patience, cultivation, and success are just what I need at the moment. It’s a long journey, but it’s worth every step. I’m going to put these words up in my office: Don’t let “NO!” or “This business is subjective, I like your story. I just don’t LOVE it.” Don’t let those voices ever stop you. You write because you love it. You write because you have to, to feel whole. You write because it creates beauty in your life. So, keep writing.

    PS – So intrigued to hear you struggle with diversity. My husband and daughter do, too. I love the way their brains work! Can’t wait to read Egg and share it with them.

  79. Inspiring post, Laura! For me, knowing the difference between the gems in my garden and the weeds is the challenge. Six summers ago, a local handyman was building our front porch railings, and he brought his 7-year-old son with him. He looked bored, so I offered to pay him to do some weeding. And that he did — he weeded over 50 iris bulbs (which I had planted in honor of my mother) because he didn’t know how to tell the difference. I often worry that I am doing the same thing when it comes to which stories I choose to focus on, or which agent I’m considering reaching out to. However, irises are particularly hardy, and the few remaining bulbs soon related my garden. Your story here built my confidence to trust that any path can work to bring you a result you weren’t expecting, as long as you keep gardening.

  80. Thank you for the wonderful post. I have made myself a promise that this is the year I will learn to love weeding (editing) and I promise to take the treasure hunt-approach. Honestly, it is exciting to see what happens when your brain is sparked with a new idea for what you’ve already created.

    What a wonderful series of prizes you are giving away. Someone is going to be very lucky!

  81. …and the seasons! I’m looking out my window today at a foot of fresh white snow. From my kitchen table I appreciate that, in addition to the promise of colorful blooms in a few months, my garden generously delivers contrast and beauty right now. To everything there is a season…and an appreciation for the NOW. Thank you for sharing your wisdom about sowing and cultivating!

    Write on!

    1. What a lovely reply! Hopefully soon, you will see the buds of Spring. I have already started my garden here and can’t wait to add to it some more. It might be small, but it is a joy.
      Write on!

  82. Hello Laura – congrats on your books! Your post is very inspiring. I now see ten green phalanges and not just a green garden thumb. Much rather be weeding words than creeping buttercups.

  83. I read your post with today’s snowstorm my window backdrop – no gardening here today. 🙂
    But it was really good to read and think about – I like gardening as an analogy even tho I’m not a gardener in real life – i think it is very fitting. So thank you for a little bit of sunshine on a very snowy New York day!!

  84. Laura, I loved the way you compared the writing process to gardening. Since my last name is Flowers, I was especially touched by your analogy, wanting so much to create children’s books that bloom in vibrant beautiful colors. As a Special Educator, I am very interested in even more of your story on how you persevered to become an author, using your talents and not letting dyslexia stop you. Thank you for sharing some of what you have learned in a handy list. Also thank you for sharing how you volunteer to help children with learning disabilities when you aren’t writing. You are helping budding authors, too! Please tell your publisher, Clear Fork Publishing, thank you for their kind offer of a submission opportunity.
    I love the way 12X12 helps us all to grow. The soil here is rich!
    Congratulations, Laura, on the blooming of your two picture books. EGG looks adorable. I look forward to reading both of your books.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. I think any challenge that we meet head on, helps us be better, at most things. I will always have insecurities about my “brain”, but that shouldn’t stop me or anyone else from bring light, joy and hope into the world.
      Good Luck to all of your work!

  85. Laura, thank you for your wonderful post and sharing your experience through words of wisdom and encouragement. Soaking in your analogy of the writing journey being much like that of tending a garden. I look forward to reading Egg and wish you all the happiness and green thumb success with Q!

  86. As I was reading your statement “Never let your hurdles stop you.” spoke to me. I never learned how to type/keyboard but writing PB stories is my conduit for being creative. It’s a hurdle but all part of this creative process I love. Thank you for the opportunity to submit to your publisher.

  87. Laura your post encouraged me to continue with my writing goals.
    I have a lot of weeds to pull, but I know that the end product will make it all worthwhile.

  88. Thank you for the encouragement. Sometimes the writing process can feel a little bit like getting lost alone in the weeds. 🙂 I would be totally lost without my critique group (connecting with your tribe is so important!) Thanks for the tips!

  89. I loved your gardening analogy. You are right! We must learn to love editing. It is in the editing process that I often feel my creativity (flowers) growing the most. Thank you for sharing your story about meeting with an art director. Your story reminded me that we need to seek out all opportunities for learning and growth and embrace them, even when they aren’t the ones we may have planned. Thank you!

  90. I’ve always foud it helpful to let story ideas germinate for a while (sometimes years!) before sitting down to put them to paper. It’s amazing how the subconcious works on them while you are doing and writing other things.

  91. Hi! I really enjoyed your post and how you likened your writing to gardening. I like to garden, but I’m not very good at it…or I should say, I just hate weeding! Fortunately though, I love editing 🙂 And I’m impressed how you “rolled up your sleeves” and met with an art director, despite not being a graphic artist. You went out of your comfort zone, but look where it took you–amazing journey! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  92. Came back to re-read this entry, and oh, how I love this quote!

    “REMEMBER IT ONLY TAKES ONE FLOWER or YES to have achieved.”

  93. Hello – This is my first check-in ever as I registered very late for the 2018 session. I am a real newbie fumbling around on this wonderful site. Since my last name is Eyerman – translates to Eggman, I’m told – I am thrilled about the book Egg. Feel this is a good start for me. Love all the comments from participants already! Thank you.

  94. So many gems in here, Laura. Isn’t it great that we must READ? And it’s useful to hear another story of the journey that didn’t go to plan but went to just right. Thanks.

  95. Happy Spring! Thanks for sharing this fun and timely post. Here’s one more idea: your garden doesn’t have to produce award winning fruits or even be photo worthy, but i guarantee it will help you learn something about yourself, about your place in nature, about your (writing) process and about waiting…

  96. Thank you so much for sharing this inspiring post! I love reading about how authors got their first picture book contracts—it gives me hope! I’m eager to read both Egg and Q!

  97. I can’t help but feel that your post came during a very appropriate time, Laura! I’m working on a story focusing on two gardeners 🙂 Thank you so much for your thoughtful post and advice. Writing is very much like gardening – gotta fend off those tricky weeds and nurture what you plant and grow.

  98. What a beautiful post. I can hardly wait to work the thawed soil of my flower gardens and cultivate the stories I have written and will write this year. Thank you.

  99. Laura,
    You are a wonder! Thank you for sprinkling your creative knowledge seeds over us. Just think of how many beautiful sprouts you may have helped to bloom!
    Keep spreading your magic!

  100. Laura, thank you for this very honest and encouraging post. I needed it. Some 12×12 ladies and I saw your new book EGG at the Bologna Book Fair this past week! Congratulations! We are so very happy for your success!

  101. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stopped submitted a manuscript because I’d received a rejection letter that stated, “Not strong enough in today’s market.” That’s when people still sent rejections. I’m sorry I didn’t resend more.

    And to add to your gardening/writing connection – Sometimes you plant a seed expecting one flower, but something different, even better pops up.

  102. I love that you took advantage of the opportunity to meet with an art director and took it and yourself seriously. What a lesson for all of us who think we are not something, cannot learn from something. Thank you for sharing!

  103. I love the gardening analogy. Interesting that the art director insisted on a dummy, but it’s just proof again that a dummy can help even a writer with pacing, page turns, etc. Congrats on your book!

  104. Thank you Laura! I love the gardening imagery–especially since the manuscript I revised this moth has a gardening theme. 🙂

  105. Great analogy. Since I garden too! I do a lot of thinking about writing while gardening! Thanks for sharing.

  106. Love your little dragon! Thanks for sharing your path, and offering such a powerful prize. I think the line about if you have one flower grow you have succeeded should be framed. I can recall feeling like a failure when having planted flower seeds – the dog tried to help me plant, a windstorm blew them around, rain came, but flooded out areas, some flowers came up in scattered places, and most did not. I pretty much gave up trying too grow my own flowers from seeds – and bought seedlings. But now I realize it is a choice to see failure at the steps as anything than instructions on how to proceed better…the metaphor of this line feels the most powerful to me because it speaks to our self-belief, in choosing to do the work, and not give up on ourselves, even if we sometimes feel like a flower standing alone.

  107. Thanks for this inspiring post. I loved how you used the analogy of gardening. Lately, writing has been making me feel more alive. I know one of these days, I’m going to feel like putting up with the rain and weeds and thorns is too much. Then I hope I remember what I’m working toward — a beautiful flowering garden!

  108. Thank you, Laura, for your beautiful and inspiring analogy! As a gardener and a lover of children’s books (both reading and writing them), your post really spoke to me. I”m sure I’ll reread it when I’m feeling discouraged by the weeds in my manuscripts! Congratulations on your picture books, and best wishes for many more. The personal involvement you’ve had in your book’s birth, including working with the illustrator, does sound very satisfying. It reminds me of the pleasure of getting one’s hands in the dirt when gardening season begins in the spring.

    Linda

  109. Your tips are wonderful! Thanks for letting me know, win/lose your EGG, that I’m on the right path, doing the right things. Usually words are cheap, actions precious…but the right words can be life-changing. Thanks!

  110. Thank you for sharing this insightful post! I’ve come back to it several times throughout the month and found something I needed in it each time.

  111. I love the thread of growth woven through your story, Laura. The golden nugget that I’ll take with me from your post is a new perspective on editing (this is the first time I’ve seen it as an opportunity for discovery). Your confidence is inspiring. 🙂

  112. Wow, I’m an editor. And the editor in me oftentimes comes in the way of my writing. Who worries about weeds on a fresh patch of dirt which is to be transformed into a garden full of flowers? Weeding comes at a later point in time. Fact is, when I write I make so many mistakes—one would wonder how I dare call myself an editor. This makes me so critical about my writing, I am too scared to share! Thanks for helping me weed out another self-created obstacle on the road to getting published as children’s PB writer, Laura! 🌸🙏🌸 I very much appreciate your wisdom!

  113. This post was a great reminder that we must tend to ourselves daily before we can let our creativity bloom. Thank you!

  114. thank you for the encouragement and opportunity! Your post resonated with me because I too am a writer and gardener and spent most of my career working with students with learning disabilities.

  115. Thank you Laura for being such a positive force in the world! I especially love the idea of working toward the higher purpose and I think that will guide me this year.

  116. “Admit self-doubt. Look it straight in the eye and realize, sure, it might be there, it might never go away, but you are so much more than IT. ”

    Persistence , perseverance and confidence – sometimes those are hard to find but your post helped to remind me of why we do what we do. And to keep at it. Thank you!

  117. Great Post! I love reading about success stories! And I love your advice to keep going despite rejections. I think aspiring writers can never hear enough of that. Thank you!

  118. Liked this metaphor. Thanks for sharing. It felt like there was a lot of wisdom and a minimum amount of fertilizer. 🙂

  119. What a great analogy, gardening and writing! And I love all the suggestions you give to help us as we work toward getting published one day! Thank you!

  120. Hello Laura, what an absolutely beautiful post on the eve of Easter . My step mother was a massive gardener and she even lived weeding . She always said weeding helped beauty find more beauty . One of my most favorite parts in growing my own tribe as I have worked on myself a person, Mom , teacher and writer is the journey every new author has . It’s so exciting to read how your weeding and planting and patience has led you down this unique path meant just for you . Congratulations! With your permission , I would like to share this post with my 6 th grade ELA students to remind them creativity is a process and one to be enjoyed . Your analogies are awesome and I could even take the kids out doors to plant some seeds while we are at it ! That they will remember in 10, 20 years !! Looking forward to reading EGG as soon as it’s available ! Thank you for taking the time to be so honest and so inspiring !! No’s are there to ask us how much we wish to continue the journey !!❤️📚🐰❤️📚🌺 Thank you , Tina

  121. Thanks for your encouragement both to continue in the face of “no”s and also to continue to read all the picture books possible. I am really working on dedicating myself to editing and revising to exhaustion instead of giving up and your post inspires me!

  122. Love the story about your critique with an art director. I guess it’s true that often opportunities aren’t always obviously forward, and that experience must have helped you make the MS better.

  123. I love this:
    “Take moments to be silly and let creativity, unfettered by your “goals” inspire you. Listen to YOU. These are your stories. You can always improve upon the technique, but don’t ever lose the heart of why and for whom you are writing.”

    I sometimes question what I am writing — but I don’t need to. I can just enjoy it. Thank you!

  124. Thank you so much for sharing your experience in this lovely post. So many encouraging reminders – I’m bookmarking it for tough moments. 🙂

  125. What a lovely and inspiring post! Congratulations on the debut of Egg and thank you for the exciting opportunity that will be awarded to this month’s raffle winner.

  126. Laura, as a fellow gardener, I love your analogy. Love that spring is coming, as is your book. Can’t wait to read it. Congratulations!

  127. This is a very inspiring and encouraging post. Likening writing to gardening is very visual and will stay with me – especially in rainy and weedy times. Writing about facing self-doubt is also a gift – good to always know one is not alone in one’s nervous thoughts. Thank you.

  128. I loved your garden references. I find joy in weeding and strive to find the flowers within my stories.

    A critique of one of my stories was an eye opener to listening without defending. It took weeks to hear and put the comments to valuable use, but I believe it made my story stronger.

  129. Congratulations on EGG! I love your gardening analogy. Thanks also for the encouragement, and for sharing your path to publishing EGG and Q.

  130. I think the weeds make in your garden make you truly appreciate the flowers when they bloom! I loved this post and I really related to all of your metaphors. Many types of seeds have been planted in my garden and I’ve enjoyed seeing them each bloom. Thank you!

  131. Not all things bloom or thrive. I have found that not all stories, even if they seem like brilliant ideas, bloom or thrive and we have to move on. Thanks for the post.

  132. Love your list of to-do’s for writing success, Laura. And I love that you list READ MORE twice. I agree…it is so important to read many many picture books because that helps us develop an inner ear for knowing what sounds good in a picture book story.

  133. I appreciate the bullet points of what you have learned regarding the writing and submission process. What a wonderful reminder that we write because we love it, and nothing should ever diminish that love. Your post is inspiring and heartwarming, and I am looking forward to reading Egg with my daughters!

  134. Thank you so much for your post! I will bookmark this post and come back to it again and again to read your inspiring words. I love your Egg – it is precious! Thank you for sharing your heart.

  135. That is a great comparison. I never thought of editing my manuscripts as weeding a garden before, but there are definitely some similarities. It is important to remove the unwanted material to let the good material grow and flourish. Thanks for the inspirational post.

  136. Thank you for your encouragement and sharing your inspiring story, Laura! It’s helps a lot to learn how it’s been for other writers. Congrats on your book success! I’m excited to check out your books.

  137. Sometimes the oops flowers are perfect for fun quirky bouquets. I especially love your advice to expand your tribe. That has been one of the most wonderful things about 12×12 for me – the expanding tribe, offering support, insight, resources.

  138. Laura,
    I loved the garden analogy. I garden and also volunteer to pull garlic mustard in the woods to help the wildflowers grow. Maybe that’s why I also like revising? Wonderful, inspiring post! You’ve given me the energy to face my next round of revisions, and to start this year’s seeds (metaphorically and literally).
    Thank you!

  139. Thank you for this lovely post, Laura! I enjoyed the parallel between gardening and writing as well as your list of ideas for writing success. I’m looking forward to reading Egg!

  140. I love the garden analogy so much!! I grew up gardening with my mother on the east coast, so when I moved to LA 12 years ago I tried to plant the same plants I knew so well out of habit. I cannot say how many “sun-loving” plants I brutally fried. My front yard is now a drought-tolerant ode to almost a decade of trial and error. I regularly now have strangers compliment my flowers and wonder how I made such a paradise with 3 small children running around. Well, it didn’t happen overnight! But I couldn’t ever pass it by without being at least tempted to pull a weed or plant something. This gives me hope for my own writing. I feel like I’m sometimes counting the years for the kids to be in school full time so that I can focus more on my writing. But imagining writing as my garden, makes me feel confident about my creative work – even if it takes another decade! ; )

  141. Thank you for this lovely and inspiring post. It’s always encouraging to be reminded that I do this because I love it, and I should not give up.

  142. You are so right! Writing is like planting a seed or marinating some meat and waiting for it to be ready-except these seeds and meat need to be massaged a bit-or a lot. Can’t wait to see Egg-sounds adorable and I like stories that give a spin on an old classic. Congratulations!

  143. Thank you for the encouragement, and the lovely metaphor! I think that will be a very helpful way to think about this. <3

  144. Laura, I love the garden analogy – and the flowers keep growing in spite of the weeds! I also like your tips especially – Write because you have to. Thank you for sharing and best of luck with future writing 🙂 Pauline

  145. March is such a busy month that I nearly missed this post! I’m so glad I came back to read it, though, as I appreciate the reminder of the similarities between gardening and writing. I hope my writing garden blooms like spring flowers in this next month!

  146. I absolutely love Laura’s post! I never equated gardening with writing before. Now, it totally makes sense! As writers, we plant the seed (story idea) and then work hard tending to the idea until it grows into a wonderful story to share with the world. Definitely inspiring!

  147. Wow thanks for the great post and analogy of gardening is great. Especially thank you for the encouraging words.

  148. Thanks for your insightful thoughts on comparing writing to gardening. I love both too, except weeding is so hard with severe physical pain and editing is hard trying to take out extra words to create a story that children will love to read over and over again. I will keep trying until I get both right!
    Congratulations on EGG I look forward to reading it soon.
    Sincerely, Bev K. Taylor

  149. Congrats on your beautiful book Laura.

    Thanks for the wonderful heart-felt advice. So much of it resonated with me but the most of all was the encouragement to listen to the silly stories within and being creative without worrying about goals. Focusing on writing and not the industry is a sure fire way to achieve joy from writing. Thank you!

  150. Thank you for all the encouragement, Laura! My favorite part was when you said, “don’t lose sight of who you are writing for.” That’s it! That’s the reward, right there. Thank you!

  151. I believe I may have commented on this post but it bears a reread. Thanks so much for this bright view into your work. It inspired my month.

  152. the gardening metaphor is just so apt at this time of year!

    always good to hear other people’s writing journeys – they keep me going with my own little garden, particularly when things seem to go quiet for a bit with writing and hearing back (sometimes a rejection is exactly what you need – an answer of some sort to make you feel like you’re still i the game!)

    thanks for sharing 🙂

  153. You’ve offered great advice. My favorite it “think of revising as weeding”.

    Congrats on all your success. I can’t wait to read both Egg and Q.

  154. Laura, thank for your wonderful words of advice and encouragement! I love the garden analogy-such a powerful reminder to always tend to our writing so that it continues thrive.

  155. I love the comparison of gardening to writing. Thank you for the words of encouragement. I’m creating a bookmark so I can read this when the writing world leaves me feeling down.

  156. Laura,

    A beautiful post indeed. I recently attended a conference where the theme was, ‘Thrive.’ I love the analogy of writing being like a garden. I’m stuck in the weeds at the moment, but I know beauty and joy are just below the surface. Thank you for your post, I’m excited for you and your debut PB, Egg. Congrats!!!!

  157. Thank you for this beautiful post. I love the idea of changing one’s paradigm on weeding/editing. Congratulations on Egg and Q!

  158. Laura, the “Check In” post prompted me to re-read your post, and I’m so pleased I did – just what I needed after a bit of a rough month, rejection-wise … am refocusing on why I write and who for!

  159. Laura –

    You have learned so much….makes me realize writing is more than just learning to write…you learn so much more than that!…Thank you for sharing…

  160. Hi Laura, thanks so much for this post. I’ve often thought of my writing as a “greenhouse.” Some seeds grow fast, some grow slow, and some never break thru the soil…but there’s always a chance, as long as I don’t give up on them. So happy to be a part of the 12 x 12 tribe. 🙂

  161. Just re-read this post, and it was a very helpful reminder to not neglect the creative garden! Thanks so much for writing it, lots of great advice I will need to revisit in the future.

  162. Laura, congratulations on you forthcoming books. I’m writing this comment from your hometown of Seattle, and thinking about gardens and writing and air and light and people walking away from Pike’s Market with armfuls of tulips and daffodils they carry like babies. Thank you for your encouragement.

  163. Thank you Laura for this beautiful post! I love the idea of tending my creative garden. I’m definitely going to work on shifting my paradigm – it’s not editing, it’s a weeding treasure hunt!

  164. Thank you for sharing your story and the things you have learned. These will be posted in my writing space for reference!

  165. Thank you, Laura, for sharing your journey, and the terrific tips of encouragement. I look forward to reading your book!

  166. Laura – first, thank you for your thoughtful, energizing analogy to gardening and tending one’s creative garden! Thanks too for sharing your journey and very helpful advice – much appreciated!

  167. Your beautiful words are recharging my writing battery so I can get back to some heart felt stories. What a wonderful time to think of my writing as gardening as spring begins. Thank you!

  168. Thank you for this thoughtful post Laura! You shared a great list of tips to keep in mind. I can’t wait to read Egg! 🙂

  169. Your post was just what I needed! I love all the references to the garden because it reminded me that my journey is all about growth : ) With each first draft, each revision, each critique, I’m growing! Congratulations on your picture book success! Thank you again!

  170. Thank you Laura – this post is encouraging and valuable. It is great to be reminded to LISTEN and I am learning to love to edit. It’s like fine tuning! Good luck to you and future success!

  171. Thank you for your encouraging post. Your words are an inspiration to this aspiring writer. I love the garden analogy.

  172. Thank you, Laura, for your inspiring words and for the opportunity you are offering for a direct submission. What a nice thing to do.

  173. Thanks for sharing about tending your garden, Laura. I love the metaphor and have been working on just that this past month.

  174. As someone not particularly interested in gardening (apart from the odd bit of pruning) I can still relate very much to your analogy. I can’t help feeling that editing is much more fun than weeding! Congratulations on having two picture books accepted for publication!

  175. Thank you for this warm and inspiring blog to 12×12 writers/illustrators. I love that you have an MA in Jungian psychology (I am a psychologist) and I will have to get a hold your MG novel that has that influence. I think a great take away from your post, Laura, is the idea of “patience” that has to accompany all creative pursuits. It is funny because I just wrote a draft of a PB manuscript that has “patience” as the main theme and takes place amongst flowers, so your garden imagery was further inspiring for me. Thank you for your insights and I look forward to reading your works. Congratulations on the inaugural PB and the second one coming soon.

  176. Your garden metaphor is perfect for this beautiful Passover/Easter weekend. I especially love your advice to “Just LISTEN.” Very important in all facets of life.

  177. Thank you, Laura, for the reminder that we are more than our flaws and that we can look our self-doubt in the eye and move on with our strengths.

  178. Loved your whole gardening analogy, but especially loved the line about looking at editing as a treasure hunt. So much about success is cultivating a good attitude, right? Thanks for your encouraging post!

  179. Thank you for such an insightful and supportive post, Laura. I think that patience is something you emphasize that we always need to be reminded about. It is key in the creative process and living in such a society where everything seems to be about being in the “fast lane”, I appreciate your sharing your history and how your writing and coming to PB’s evolved. Also, I take great interest in your having an MA in Jungian psychology. I am a psychologist and so much of the Jungian archetypes fit with writing for young children. Best to you.

  180. Thank you, Laura for your inspiring post and generous offer of a copy of Egg to the winner. Thank you also to your agent, Callie for her generosity and to yourself for putting time aside to select a manuscript from the winner’s garden of blooms 🙂

  181. Thank you, Laura, for your encouraging post. I love the gardening analogy. I feel like I’ve been in the weeds a very long time. And although nothing much is growing here in Montana just yet, there are portents of loveliness to come.

  182. Laura, I’m a gardener at heart who actually loves weeding. Your metaphor resonates with me – thanks for your thoughtful & very helpful post & your extremely generous submission offer. May your garden continue to blossom.

  183. Thank you for this beautifully written post! I loved the comparison of writing to gardening, both of which require so much patience. Patience is such a hard thing to master. However, I appreciated all of your recommendations for ways to improve our writing, editing and revising (weeding!), and to not forget self-care. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and encouragement with us!

  184. Thanks for the down-to-earth realism about the ups and downs, setbacks, the waiting, the value of patience, listening, and ultimately, faith in oneself and in the endeavor overall. And for the bullet points. Looking forward to seeing your books.

  185. Thank you for an inspiring post – just at the time I really need it. Patience is hard work, harder than writing itself.

  186. You’re right that 12×12 is a beautiful place with constant support. And you’re a perfect example of that. Thanks for your advice and encouragement.

  187. Laura,

    What an inspirational post! I loved reading about your success story and I wish you the best of luck with your stories and your future stories. I plan to check out your book at the library today.

    Renee

  188. Laura, I love how you took a risk and met with an art director and it paid off for you. It seems like you both gambled on each other and you both won. 🙂

  189. Thanks for your inspiring post, Laura! I really connected with your gardening analogy, as I’ve been watching my amateur gardener husband planning, plotting, strategizing, pacing, researching, becoming excited with the melting of snow, then cursing the falling snow (again, today!), spending hours on spreadsheets, watching youtube videos, then just yesterday, planting tiny seeds into hundreds of small compartments, attaching grow lights, all with the utmost care, like one tending to a small child they love dearly. Your post relates to all I see my husband doing in his journey to create his vision of the perfect garden, for him. You both have cemented the fact that anything one is passionate about takes time, care, patience, perseverance, and love. No one can tell my husband that his garden isn’t acceptable, or ‘not right at this time’, or ‘not what we’re looking for’, as his garden is his, and he gardens because he loves to. I’m keeping this vision at my true north, moving forward. I write because I love to, and I must. Thank you for sharing and in doing so, helping so many others on their path to growing their own gardens!

    Congrats on Egg…can’t wait to read it!!

  190. What fun to read about your journey as a writer! Thank you for sharing. I love the gardening metaphor — beautiful and so true! Best of luck with your lovely EGG!

  191. Dear Laura, you are my inspiration. Thank you for this great blog, I’m looking forward to reading EGG.
    Never take a no to mean no forever!

  192. Joan
    April 2, 2018 at 12:03 pm
    Dear Laura, you are my inspiration. Thank you for this great blog, I’m looking forward to reading EGG.
    Never take a no to mean no forever!

  193. Comparing writing to working in the garden, is refreshing. And so appropriate. As my writing journey continues, I have discovered that I must learn to ‘weed’ better. Still working on more collaboration, but did dare share 2-3 drafts, so those can now do a little blossoming…Slowly, but surely, like those garden snails.

  194. Thanks for sharing your journey and your wisdom. Something we can all relate to. Looking forward to reading your book.

  195. What an inspiring post. Thanks, Laura, especially for the never give up advice. And what a generous offer to one lucky participant.

  196. Thanks for the inspiring words, Laura! I enjoyed the list of things you have learned and I love the references to writing being like gardening.

  197. Laura, this post is exactly what I needed to hear right now. And I’m not just saying that. I LOVE the gardening analogy, especially the the dud seeds–I’ve been gardening for years, and don’t get too frustrated when a seed doesn’t ever germinate. It’s oks. I’ll get keep plugging along, planting my ‘seeds’. Thank you.

  198. I’ve read this twice and the information is great the second time. It only takes one YES to change the journey.

  199. Thanks for the inspiring words about how to see the editing process. I really appreciated how you spoke of the gems that come through the process-Beautiful, Laura!

  200. Thank you for your inspiring post. It’s nice to be reminded that even the tough parts of writing, like revising, are part of the creative process. I can’t wait to read your book.

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