Thursday, March 5, 2009
ON THE ISSUE OF JUDGING
So this past week, the group of us pictured to the left, (from top-hand left-side) myself, Lisa Greenleaf, Muriel Dubois, Ann Pernham (MSLA past president and director Region I), Jarrett Krosoczk, Mary Newell DePalma, Gerry Fegan (MSLA President Elect), Nancy Werlin and Diane Mayr were asked to judge the Massachusetts School Library Association's bookmark contest. Now, we, as humans make judgements every day: decisions like "yeah, I think I will eat my lunch directly from the crunchy peanut butter jar with a spoon" or "oh well, my overzealous washer has once more devoured a matching sock. I guess I'll throw its mate away." or in the case of my youngest daughter, "Never mind. She wears socks that don't match anyway, even when I buy her perfectly good ones in colors that are distinctly meant for each other." So who would have guessed that a simple bookmark judging contest would be so hard? But truly, it was. Each bookmark was so amazingly creative and so beautifully produced. It was incredibly difficult to make a choice, and yet that is what we had to do!
It made me realize that life is a lot about choices and judging and not all of it reflects truly on our abilities. For instance, my youngest daughter is now applying for colleges. She won't get into them all, of course. And when that happens, I, as a parent, will console her and remind her that she is still a wonderful kid with lots to offer, even if she does wear strange socks!
So why is it so hard for me to remember this when my own work gets rejected? Not every manuscript is for every editor - just as every book isn't for every reader. And what about those editors themselves? Imagine getting loads of submissions but only being able to push for and publish a few!
Just as I felt as I was looking at all those beautiful bookmarks and college admissions people must feel looking at thousands of applications, editors must frequently wish they didn't have to make a choice. They must sometimes agonize over which manuscript to take, and one will eventually be judged and rejected
So my advice this week to writers and illustrators, to myself and to all the kids who will soon get a college rejection or those students whose bookmarks weren't chosen: Rejection is not the end of the world or a definitive judgement on your abilities. Keep trying. Keep drawing and working and revising. Eventually somebody out there will choose you!
Now I will leave you with some of those wonderful MSLA bookmarks to enjoy: