Thursday, September 9, 2010

No Shortcuts

I know this is such a late conference review - like a month late.  I have been traveling, working on our upcoming local conference and working away on my jewelry book.  Deadlines - aren't they awesome fun?

I've been thinking about what I'd like to share about the 2010 Summer SCBWI conference.  I could give you a round-up of quotes, photos of folks I met, epiphanies that dawned on me.  But you've already read all of that on the SCBWI Blog and from your favorite bloggers.  What I will share is what is still rattling around in my brain a month later.  What has caused a little paradigm shift for me after the conference?

It's one line from agent Steven Malk, "There are no short cuts."  Now he was talking about trends and quick fixes.  But the more those words have settled in my brain, the more I realize what great advice that one-liner is.

There are no short cuts to creating great illustrations. 
Am I sketching everyday? 
Am I working on more than one solution to a problem in my thumbnail sketches?  (Thanks to E.B. Lewis' breakout session that is a question I'm asking myself more and more.)
Am I taking the principles of design and color seriously as I work up my images?
Am I studying the masters in this field, the classics of the genre and what is hitting and flying off the shelves?
Am I finishing projects/dummies that have been on my to-do list forever? 

There are no short cuts to getting published.
What have I submitted this month? 
Is my mailing list current?
Do I have a plan for my next postcard?
Note to self: you must join a critique group again, asap!

There are no short cuts to self-promotion.
Frequent website updates.
Blog and share new work more often.
Use social networking for networking and not just lurking.
Be honest about my efforts - is it promoting or procrastinating?
Am I keeping up with my marketing plan or just making fancy lists?

An agent is not a short-cut to publication.
Getting an agent is not a quick fix but a partnership to grow your career.  Ever grow anything?  It takes hard work, (skill) lots of weeding (editing, critiques), sunshine and water (inspiration) and time.  Well that's just it, it all takes time.

There are no short-cuts. Sometimes it may seem like someone has caught a lucky break, but honestly those are rare and yeah for them.  For most illustrators it takes a few years to learn the ropes, hone their skills and find their way before they make it.  This has helped with some of my own frustration over the 'why not me' feelings and 'oh if I only didn't have a day job rants.' Just me?  Okay, maybe that's just me.


  1. Good post-conference musings, Heather! I feel like I'm still sifting through all the wonderful information & inspiration from that trip myself. And these questions are uber-relevant (I'm working on a master marketing list this week). Is this the SA conference you're working on?

  2. Fabulous post, Heather, and exactly what I realized after LA last year. It's the "10,000 hour" rule, the "read 100 books" rule, the "it's called work for a reason" rule. :) I'm putting in as much time as I can. 15 min here, 15 min there. And trying to remind myself that this journey is a marathon, not a sprint!

  3. Just printed this post out for myself as a reminder when I grouse about how long it all takes. Trying to put in the time and not get distracted by too many other shiny things.