Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What You're Good At and What You're Not

I had a wonderful time at the SCBWI conference in Denver. That Adam Rex sure does know how to entertain a crowd! I got his book Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich and I'm enjoying reading it in yummy bites right now. I hope Adam made it home through airport security with his mounted taxidermy duck a-ok...


Because I'm a bit of a perfectionist, I tend to dwell on what I'm not so good at and worry about how I could make it better. At the conference I had a great portfolio critique with Adam Rex and a manuscript critique with Alexandra Penfold, editor at Paula Wiseman Books. After both critiques I gnawed away at the comments about the weaknesses in my art and story. But as time passed and I put things in better perspective, I realized that I was given lots of compliments and encouragement, too.

I also got to spend a few days with my friend Brooke Boynton Hughes. She conquered her fear of zombies over the weekend which you can read about on her blog. (Another success story from a SCBWI conference!)  One evening Brooke passed along some wisdom to me. Lots of people focus their energy trying to improve their weaknesses. But it's important to remember your strengths also. It's ok emphasize the things that you love to do and are really good at. That way you aren't always working on something difficult and perhaps disappointing.

So!! I would like to acknowledge what I'm not so good at-
1. Drawing people and their clothes.
2. Putting emotion into the text of a story.
To work on improving I'm going to draw people in the real world every Friday morning. You see, I was excited to start going to life drawing sessions. My work schedule just changed and I was finally off on the Friday morning meeting time. But I found out they just recently stopped doing the sessions. Aargh! So I'll be drawing at a coffee shop or the library.
And I'll keep writing and writing and writing etc. while thinking about the emotion of the story. Heck I may do a little of that at the coffee shop, too.

But there are things that I'm already good at-
1. I'm very good at my favorite medium, linocut.
2. I'm also good at thinking through an entire story or concept and working on it until it's done and is a BOOK.
I'm all fired up and already working on my next dummy. And of course redoing my current one.

In the spirit of celebrating what we are good at, I'd love to hear what you love to do that you do really well!


  1. Hmm...I'm not very good at lino-cutting (working on that!) and I struggle to draw well (working on that, too!), but if I can tie illustration to the writing I might be better=placed...

  2. It's such an interesting exercise isn't it, weighing up strengths and weaknesses. I love your little people (and their clothes!) so much that I can't agree with your list, though I very much appreciate the spirit in which it's written! In writing, I think I'm quite good at creating unique characters with distinctive points of view, but so far I'm pretty poor at anything involving real magic - odd maybe, since I like the idea of magic so much!

  3. I'm so glad we got to hang out at the conference, Jill! You're GREAT at linocuts!!! Your work is unique and wonderful and makes me happy. :)

    ps- Thanks for listening to me tell you all about my zombie dreams. I haven't had one since I got back from the conference. :)

  4. This was my first SCBWI conference to attended. I spoke to Adam briefly, but I really wished I had met you & Brooke...both of you are fabulous artist!