I think everyone remembers the childhood taunt, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me", right? But do you know where this chant originated? Most experts say that this saying was first listed in "Folk Phrases of Four Counties" written by G. F. Northall and published in 1894. But another form of this saying, "hard words break no bones" was being said in the early 18th century and maybe even earlier than that. The more I think about it, the more I realize this should be my new writer's mantra.
In case you didn't realize, I've been participating in WriteOnCon, an online writier's conference, this past week. Well, let me clarify a little. The actual conference doesn't start until the 14th, but the forums have been available for writers to post queries and the first 250 words of all genres of children's books. And boy, have I taken full advantage of this opportunity.
I've run like a mad woman through those forums and currently have four picture book queries and the first 250 words, one middle grade boy's adventure query and first 250 words, one young adult mystery WIP query and first 250 words, and one young adult fantasy WIP query and first 250 words out on the firing line for anyone to take a shot at them. Repeat after me...STICKS AND STONES MAY BREAK MY BONES, BUT WORDS WILL NEVER HURT ME...
A lot of words have come my way this past week. Some like what I have written, some got lost along the way because my writer's voice wasn't clear enough, but all the words have been encouraging. No need to fear them. All I need to do is learn from them and continue to grow as a writer.
I was even blessed to have a full critique given to me (not once but twice) by a writer who also reads through the slush piles for a publishing house and her no-frills comments on my Lunadar query are invaluable to me. How nicely she put that my query simply is lacking key elements to capture an agent's (or her) attention. I read through my query again and instantly see where she is coming from. I will even say that my own query stinks. But that's okay because I still have time to revise and polish it some more until it shines.
This conference, for me, is not about "being discovered" but more about experiencing the excitement of actively participating in discussions about writing improvement in a very public arena. I gather all the words sent my way and know I will come away from WriteOnCon stronger than when I began.