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  • Writer's pictureJosette Abruzzini

Pushing the Restart Button!

After eleven-months away from my writing, I’m back!

Following a family sabbatical of sorts, I returned to my writing this past January. Early in 2023 I found myself juggling platters, not plates, and there were too many at once, so I set aside my writing and focused on a few essential tasks. “Life” can take center stage for both joys and challenges.

As it turned out, I made many magnificent memories and planted a few seeds. Here's to today and tomorrow!

I’ve always loved writing, and have been doing so, in earnest, for ten years. Whether a biography picture book, a narrative STEM nonfiction story, or an historical novel set in a foreign country, each main character grows my world. The most important aspect isn’t whether or not I’ll ever get published - each story has earned a permanent place in my heart - but sharing these stories with the world would undoubtedly be the icing on a delicious slice of cake.  

You might assume that while my stories “rested” in a drawer or a computer file, no progress was made on them, but that’s not so. Letting a manuscript sit for a spell is more like simmering a pot of homemade Italian sauce. The temperature is set very low, but it’s not all the way off. It's a time of hibernation. Improvements persist - the tweaking of an opening, considering a new direction, or the addition of some element of emotion – albeit in my head.

As the end of 2023 was nearing, I knew my return was around the corner, but what changes in my writing routine did I want to make? I reflected...

I’ve been blessed, the last few years, with an abundance of writing workshops, seminars, peer groups, contests and mentors. Some have cost hundreds; many have been free of charge. All have helped me hone my craft. The kidlit writing community has been friendly, supportive, and oh so generous, but going forward, I realized I needed to focus my immediate efforts on my projects themselves. I vowed to ease back into my community, one step at a time. No big announcements. No commitments to ongoing classes. Just see how it goes…

So far, so good!

A thorough revision was my next goal. Do I really have the right structure? How can the voice in a manuscript match my vision for the story? How can the endings best express both the story and my message? Luckily, I came across Kirsten Larson’s new book that was hot off the press – Reimagining Your Nonfiction Picture Book. I ordered my copy – and put it under the tree with a tag from my hubby. One chapter at a time I read carefully, took notes, studied comps, and completed every exercise. Walking the walk gave me new eyes with which to see my work. I liked the book so much I wrote a review.

So… what was it like to actually pick up that manuscript after my sabbatical?

Finally I gingerly opened one of my manuscripts and read it. I could almost smell the fresh herbs in that pot of simmering sauce. I smiled. The writing wasn’t half bad; however, I clearly saw the superfluous darlings that would soon be expunged, and a few errant phrases as well. Armed with a few new ideas, I was itching to get started!

Of course, the manuscript did not actually change while it was simmering in the drawer. It was really me that had gained perspective during those months. My own experiences are the secret sauce that give me clarity, and perhaps a little wisdom, and the events of 2023 had tweaked my mindset in several ways. Add those experiences to what I’d garnered earlier, and I was excited for the task that lay ahead.

But I don't work well in a vacuum. I rejoined my online nonfiction writing group, happy to hear of their publishing successes, and I also found a terrific group of picture book writers in Vermont, where we're moving. Writing groups are essential to most writers. I also followed up with a mentor friend for additional input.

I’m happy to say that I’m in a good place with my writing, but of course there’s much left to do.

I signed up for the Complete Picture Book Submission System, a comprehensive course that I can complete in my own time. That will hone my querying skills. It's finally time to download a few modules and get that ball rolling!

Also, this month I’ll be adding a few choice webinars to my schedule. Easy, Josette. Keep your focus.

There are still a few platters and plates juggling in my sphere. That’s okay. The writing plate is one of my favorites, and every one of those dishes are essential to my well-being and happiness.

Here's to 2024!

Thank you for reading my post. Visit Josette Abruzzini/STEAM Educator/Writer to check out my website.

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1 Comment

Mar 30

I've missed your blog and I'm happy it and you are back. I hope you will be in Philly next week and we can catch up.

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