So, getting to children's literature. I was given some great advice recently that I wanted to pass along. An SCBWI friend told me that you should send "thank you" notes to presenters or breakout group leaders at conferences you attend. Especially if they are agents or editors you may want to query later. I never would have thought of this. Although this “thank you” is more self-serving than, say, thanking someone for a birthday gift, it is still a nice gesture. It takes a little extra effort and might be appreciated that much more when you could easily send a ‘thank you” tweet instead. Also, just because there might be something in it for you doesn’t make the gratitude insincere. I was genuinely so grateful for every presenter, every organizer, every fellow SCBWI member after the conference in LA that had I $1,000 for stamps I would have send a card to every single person.
It made me wonder, who else should I be thanking that I've overlooked? As a friend pointed out, I am a writer who is also the mother of an only child who just entered preschool for 3 hours 5 days a week. What does that mean? TIME!!!! I am more grateful for time than almost anything in my daily life. And time I can dedicate exclusively to writing? There is truly no greater gift. If I could send a thank you note to the universe, to the higher power some call “God”, if I had enough money for however much that stamp would cost, I would do that too. I’d send one to every twinkling star.
Who else? I don’t know about you, but I rely on my local librarians tremendously for market research. I know I check out more than my fair share of books and make them work harder as a result. We have an interlibrary loan system at our library so they are constantly shuffling books not just off the shelves, but across the state. I decided recently to let them know this was not lost on me. I put together a basket of chocolate bars, candy, and tea along with a "thank you" note acknowledging their hard work and dropped it off one day. The rest of that week I had so many of them come up to me and say how much they appreciated it, not the treats so much, but the recognition of their job well done. I was so glad I had done it.
We all yearn for that, right? For someone to see that we’re doing a good job and to acknowledge that. Ever worked a job where you did not get this feedback? It’s hard to maintain the same level of energy and dedication when you feel unappreciated. We know this though. We’re writers. We deal with rejection letters, with people who don’t understand what we do, or why we do it. We deal with our own doubts. That’s why the community of writers we get through local groups, online critique groups, SCBWI, and social media is so important too. We can tell each other “thank you” and “I see what you’re doing and I think it’s great.”
So in closing, I have one last group to thank: my critique groups. These are the people that read my stories! That help me make them better! That I expose myself to in rough draft form and that encourage me nonetheless! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! So, if I ask for your address in the near future, I’m not dropping by unexpectedly for dinner. (Well, maybe if it’s not too far.) But you might get something in the mail. Or maybe milk.