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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Good Is NOT Good Enough

"Good enough" is a phrase I live by in my day-to-day life. Spencer has no clean pants, but these jeans don't smell bad and I'll do laundry today anyway? Good enough. Goldfish again for snack instead of something interesting and inventive? Totally good enough. Skipping bath night so we can read books in bed instead? Absolutely good enough.

"Good enough" is what saves me as a mother. Us Type-A personalities need to learn to roll with it if we are ever going to survive parenthood. With each kid, I've become a little better at embracing my inner mediocrity. I'm not terrible at motherhood, but I'm by no means a saint. I lose it sometimes, I ask for their forgiveness. I try to make up for mistakes with apologies and sometimes ice cream. I try to teach them things but don't freak out when we don't do complicated craft projects just for the heck of it.

"Good enough" parenting is, in my opinion, a necessity in today's world of perfect-looking Pinterest projects. I go to bed each night without guilt, and that makes me happy.

BUT. But. "Good enough" is not something that works when it comes to writing.

There are a lot of good writers out there. A lot. I do think I am one of them, mainly because I've been writing my whole life, and spending my career as a writer/editor. However, to get published as a children's book author, you cannot be good enough. You cannot merely be great. You must be exceptional.

And exceptional I am not.

I attended the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Winter Conference in New York last weekend. It was amazing, and I could do several blog posts on all the great stuff I learned. But my major takeaway? What I am doing is not good enough.

Sometimes waking up early to write for 30 minutes, but most of the time not? Not good enough.

Looking at my middle grade novel and thinking it doesn't need major revisions? Definitely not good enough.

The competition is so incredibly stiff. One agent I heard speak last fall estimates he takes on 0.02% of the authors that query him in a year. Another said that she instantly rejects 98% of the queries she receives daily.

There are certainly things you can do to set yourself up for success (that's another post to come). But in the mean time? I'm going to start shooting for exceptional instead of good enough.

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