I like to stay grounded in the present in my writing (with an eye on future deadlines), but every now and then I try to look back on the work I’ve done. Or walk back to it, in this case.
My first children’s novel, Walking Backward, was published by Orca Book Publishers in 2009, which feels like quite a while ago. It was very well reviewed that year and the next, and was nominated for several awards. And it is still going strong, thanks to the wonderful way that teachers, librarians, and young readers keep children’s literature alive through word of mouth.
Walking Backward is currently a nominee for two provincial awards: the 2011 Diamond Willow Award (one of three categories in the Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Award), and the 2012 Red Cedar Fiction Award (BC’s Young Readers’ Choice Award). So this fall, students across western Canada will be considering my book among several other good titles from the past couple of years.
Like most writers, I tend to dwell on all the work I am not doing, all the ideas I have not yet written into life, all the pages that read poorly and the situations that fall flat. Like most writers, I need a magnifying glass to notice my accomplishments next to my mountainous garbage heap. But once in a while something helps point them out to me.
The last line in the letter I received from E. Ann Atchison, Vice President of SYRCA, read:
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your outstanding contribution to the field of Canadian children’s literature.”
That really hit home. I know it’s a standard line for this sort of “congratulations” letter. But I do not usually receive such letters. I did not realize I’d made an outstanding contribution to anything. I know a lot of people liked Walking Backward – and I love every letter I’ve received saying so – but I never placed it within my field of work. I thought it was outstanding compared to what I usually get up to (i.e., the moutainous garbage heap). But outstanding in the field of Canadian children’s literature? Wow. That’s humbling.
I’m not resting on my laurels – I only have two laurel leaves so far, after all (just enough for a good soup) – but, as I get set to finish a couple of rewrites this summer, and I await the publication of two exciting novels this fall, it’s nice to take a moment to look back and feel great about what I did a couple of years ago.
That said, I guess I’ll go dig around in my garbage heap for something to blog about next time…