So tell us about your exciting news!
I am thrilled, like wake up dancing while throwing confetti in the air thrilled, to announce I signed with the amazing Danielle Smith from Lupine Grove Creative. Earlier this summer, I put querying/writing aside and my husband, two kids, and I took a trip to Europe. I still checked my email. Who can really ever stop checking their email? No one. Throughout our trip, I started receiving some wonderful news. When it came time to take that special call, I locked myself in our tiny Paris hotel bathroom and sat in the shower. In all the years that I dreamed of that moment, I never imagined a toilet would be so close to me.
How did the The Writing Barn aid you in achieving this goal?
I met Danielle at The Writing Barn picture book weekend intensive in March 2017. She had a calm, kind, and passionate approach to writing which brought tears to my eyes. I owe everything to The Writing Barn. I’ve taken almost every class one can take there and it’s become my home away from home. I don’t have any plans of leaving.
How long have you been writing and pursuing an agent or publishing deal?
As a child, I wrote plays and forced my sisters to act in them. Does that count? If it doesn’t, then I started writing picture books, terrible picture books, when my children were toddlers. So…add… no subtract…carry the one…and that equals over six years. I took my first Writing Barn class in the summer of 2014 and I began querying agents on and off soon after that.
What fears and hopes did you have before The Writing Barn event?
I can’t say that I had any fears. I had just met my spectacular critique group at the November intensive so I knew what wonderful people came to the barn. I hoped that I’d be lucky enough to meet fabulous friends again, and I did.
Writing can be so lonely, then add rejection to the mix. Last winter, I felt like I was queen of rejection and I had the crown to prove it. But those negative feelings disappeared when I walked into the picture book intensive. Every person there has faced rejection and is honest about it and even laughs about it. I can’t express in words how wonderful this feels. It’s like drinking espresso, and eating chocolate, while riding a unicorn kind of feeling.
How did the atmosphere of The Writing Barn aid you in achieving your goal?
Stepping into The Writing Barn is like receiving a warm hug. There’s always a bonding magic that happens at each intensive. It’s like getting to go back to camp. Every attendee becomes each other’s biggest cheerleader and the March intensive produced that same magic.
Have you made friendships / colleagues along the way? How has that supported you?
One of my favorite parts was after the intensive. When we all went home and started missing the magic. We found each other on social media and the bonding continued and still does to this day.
Why do you think attending workshops / classes is important to writers in all stages of their career?
Years ago, I walked in as a brand new writer with a jumble of crazy words and the classes gave me the tools and more importantly, the courage, to form a story. My words start to jumble when I haven’t taken a class in awhile. There’s new trends to learn, new tools to use, and I always need courage to iron out my story. Why would anyone stop learning?
What is a takeaway you will carry with you far beyond this good news as you continue to build and develop your career?
Just keep swimming. Although, Dori says it way cuter than I do. Just keep swimming with a smile and meet friends along the way.
Any advice you have for writers/creatives having trouble staying the course in pursuing their goals?
My advice or at least this is what the coach voice inside my head says: Do I want this? No, do I really, really want this? If I’m frustrated and broken down, then I allow myself a break. I take months if I need to. Did I daydream during those breaks? Always. Did I come running back to writing? Every time. Then I’m where I’m meant to be, even if getting there takes a lifetime. Where ever “there” may be.
Erin Sewell grew up smack in the middle of five girls. They wrote plays, dressed up, and ate cake, because childhood is awesome. Refusing to change, Erin found an official grownup name for her passion. She is a picture book and middle grade writer and lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, two children, and hedgehog. She is also a writing fellow at The Writing Barn, but still finds every excuse to dress up and eat cake with her children, because childhood is awesome.