Thursday, February 17, 2011


I've been dragging my feet in writing this post. I don't like feeling discouraged and now that I'm hopeful again, I want to sweep my prior despair under the rug. But it's important to talk about. We all feel hopeless in our pursuits at some time or another and I've been there way more than once!

Right around Day 10 I was having a hard time finding illustration submission guidelines for a lot of my publishers. I was getting really frustrated. Why was I so concerned about guidelines? Because I care and my time is really important to me. I don't want to waste it or anyone else's by sending something to the wrong place in the wrong format to be discarded before it is ever seen. So, instead, I ended up spending a lot of extra time trying to double check guidelines everywhere I could, including web addresses I already had from past research. In most cases the web pages I had previously been on had been removed. What's up with that? The submission guidelines for writers could still be found and were full of apologies that they would no longer be accepting un-agented work. Instead, submissions would be discarded. Everywhere editors were overtaxed with piles of submissions and didn't have the time to open them all. But what about art directors and illustration submissions? Was I wasting my time? They still need illustrators...don't they?

Suddenly my time felt very insignificant. The excitement and hope fully drained from my body. Why bother? So...I threw a pity party. Luckily it got too loud and obnoxious for my good neighbor, Rational Thinking and she quickly put an end to it. Since I had been to one of these parties before, I knew what to do. I closed my computer, put away my other research tools and got busy doing what I needed to do...none of which had anything to do with publisher submissions.

These are the general steps I follow to get out of the trap of hopelessness:

Reality check - Even though I really really really want to illustrate for the children's publishing industry and I dedicate hours and hours to that pursuit...that isn't all there is to my life. I have a family, friends, web design/illustration business, cards and prints to sell, I live in beautiful surroundings with amazing outdoor things to do...I was feeling better already!

Act on it - I checked in with my family. Hey! They were still there!

Get back in sync - For me this means doing everyday things that are really important to the enjoyment of life - like cooking delicious healthy meals and spending quality time with my family and friends.

Exercise - I had been staring at my computer in research mode and had barely moved for days. No wonder my thoughts had gelled into a quagmire of irrational ideas. It was time to get that blood moving and expel that icky residue. Out to the forest with the dog!

Start a new project using established strengths - Starting a new illustration is like hitting the reset button for me. All becomes right with the world. My last post reminded me how much I want to do middle grade book covers, so I started one for the NanoWriMo novel I did in November. I'm using all my favorite illustration techniques. I'll post it when it's done.

Positive role models - This quest for publishers is most often a solitary pursuit - so is being an illustrator. That isn't a bad thing, but as I move forward in this new terrain, my footing is sometimes unsure. In situations where I feel discouraged, I like to read about successful illustrators, writers and musicians who share their journeys in very real ways. (By successful I mean remaining true to themselves and doing what they love.) I like documentaries too - especially about people who have been unconventional in their paths. (Reading Editorial Anonymous while feeling discouraged is not a good idea.)

Feel that strength - This is the lion's roar where I declare, "Oh Yeah!? My time is important too!" and I get back up, brush off the debris and puff myself out a bit to continue my journey forward.

Clarification - With renewed conviction, I clarify my vision of who I am, what I can do and what I want. This results in stronger footing and a reminder of why I'm doing what I'm doing. A new plan is formulated from an informed place and new confidence to do what I need to do while being true to myself. I know my time is valuable whether someone else thinks so or not. If I fit the publisher, I'll be sending illustration submissions until I see something concrete that says not too. I take full responsibility for that.

Benefits to losing hope - Benefits? Yep. Clarification and renewed hope are the benefits I usually get, along with dispelling all those irrational thoughts that clutter my path and keep me from moving forward. That means onward to PubSubPackMo, Day 17! I've got to catch up a little, but I've got 15 publishers so far.

So, that's what I do when I feel discouraged. How about you? What do you do to get yourself out of that funk?


  1. Ah, I know what you mean! Exercise does help, I bust out and have dance parties with my kids also. Keep moving onward, your time is worth it!

  2. Gives me images of the BoogieWoman taking on the evil BogeyMan of hopelessness. I like it! Onward...

  3. Did I miss this post the first time around? It was linked to in your most recent one. I love the kitty! Is it Walter or a cat from your imagination? I suppose it could just be a random cat picture you decided to put up. :-)

  4. Funny this post popped up. I think I did this illustration about 25 years ago! It was a cat we had named Mocha. I've always liked this drawing.

  5. It's a beautiful drawing. Captures "cat" very well.