Friday I finished assembling my Don Freeman grant submission. I made my own envelope to fall within size requirements and in it I put my 32 page picture book dummy, double-spaced manuscript, two finished illustrations from the picture book with one converted to black and white, and four copies of the grant application with career background and publishing bibliography. I took it to the post office with huge relief and the clerk asked me if my package contained any hazardous material. I laughed at the thought, but I've worked hard to take the hazardous element out of my work.
By hazardous I'm not talking about the postal definition, but the feeling of being chancy, risky, unsure. It is my job to present my work in a certain and reliable way, while at the same time highlighting the magic and value to the children's publishing industry. It is through repeatedly jumping through the hoops of submitting my work that my footing has become less hazardous.
It used to be that I struggled with even the most rudimentary parts of sending my work to publishers. Now I understand why. I hadn't solidified my own ideas about my strengths as a children's illustrator. There is a great deal of clarification I have had to go through with myself in order to present well and be understood in this arena, but it's getting easier and better every time.
Even now, as I prepare the same picture book for a critique from an art director, I am making improvements on the angle from which I present it. Am I looking back and wishing I could re-do my grant application? I could, but I would be wasting valuable time. It is better to move forward and know that I will always do my best, learn from the experience, and make a less hazardous presentation next time.