On the Friday of Labor Day weekend, Highlights office staff played hooky and went kayaking. We paddled, laughed, sang and–of course–talked about our community. Guess what we figured out? Kayaking gave us a perfect way to think about this creative world we inhabit:
Reward Yourself for Your Hard Work.
Especially during the summer, our team is super-busy and we work hard to make sure our visitors are well cared for. Our fearless leader, George Brown, is great at recognizing that and thanking us, too. When we had the idea about going kayaking together, he said “have fun!” Writers and illustrators work hard, and most of you have families and “day jobs.” Make sure that you occasionally reward yourself for the work you’re putting in towards your dream. Occasional time off will keep you fresher for the work.
Preparation is Key.
You need kayaks, paddles, life jackets. Water, snacks, sunglasses. Bug spray, sunblock, hats. If you take the time to think it through, organize your equipment and be prepared, all will go more smoothly. Writers need a place to write, the right writing implement (whether analog or electronic.) Illustrators need inspiring pens, pencils, sketchbooks, erasers. If you have the right stuff, you’ll be better equipped to enjoy the journey.
Many Hands Make Light Work.
Yes, kayaking can be a lovely solo activity. Writing and illustrating are often solitary endeavors, too. But there are benefits to bringing your friends along. If you’re kayaking on a river, you’ll need to leave one car at the landing place and take another to the launch site: at least two drivers needed! Getting the kayaks off the car and into the water is much easier with helping hands. Many a kidlit creative has felt stronger and safer walking into a conference with friends along, and don’t get us started on the benefits of belonging to a critique group.
Show the Beginners How It’s Done.
Molly, our wonderful intern, had never been kayaking before, so the rest of us took some time to show her the tricks we knew. This is what the Foundation’s emphasis on Mentorship is all about, and our faculty are so generous with their time and advice! We always get positive comments on our evaluation forms about how willing the faculty is to share their experiences.
When Someone’s Kayak Tips Over, Take the Plunge.
Mishaps always happen on the river: a kayak capsizes, gets stuck on the rocks or something valuable falls overboard. But everyone jumps in to make things right and to keep the whole group moving. Isn’t that just like the #kidlit community, too? An author gets dis-invited from a school visit due to the “questionable” content of her book, and social media rings with support and indignation for her. We keep each other afloat in so many ways!
Don’t Forget to Enjoy the Journey.
You’re passionate about your work, and want to share it with the world. But don’t get so focused on publication that you miss the wonders along the way.