Priscilla Burris

/Tag:Priscilla Burris

Sage Advice and Never Give Up

A few days ago, I attended my first Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference. Aside from the obvious gift of being able to submit a partial manuscript to a Scholastic Assistant Editor, I felt almost giddy as I got ready for the event.

When I work on my children’s book writing, I enjoy an amazing surge of excitement and passion. When I get around others in the same industry, I sense something similar in my heart.

What I didn’t expect from the conference were the two main take aways from the day. I want to share them with you because they literally apply to everyone who has a dream.

First, Dan Yaccarino spoke and shared his career journey as a children’s author and illustrator. His bottom line: Always say Yes. He shared how he has said yes even when he had no idea what he was really saying yes to. While this isn’t something novel or new in the world of positive thinking, it got me to pondering why people don’t say yes more often.

For me, I remember at one of my first office job interviews being asked if I knew how to operate a PC. At the time, I didn’t even know what P and C stood for, but there I was saying, “Yes!” I quickly did some research and figured out P stood for personal and C stood for computer. Then, it was on to figuring out how to use WordPerfect, which was not as easy, but I certainly figured it out in short order.

I get that gusto for “I can do anything” from my mother. In fact, during a break at the conference, I called her to thank her for the chutzpah she instilled in me to know I can figure anything out. We giggled about Dan’s saying yes to project after project as he did what I did…quick research and fast action. This flair and bravery helped me advance quickly in every job and every consulting engagement I’ve ever had.

But what keeps us from doing this? Worry that we won’t be able to figure it out. Concern we are ‘lying’ because we don’t actually know what P and C mean… and many other things that are limited. The truth is, though, that every person risks in many ways each and every day. Some of the risks are wide and some not so much. I believe our ability to tolerate some daring and risk-taking is what makes a YES turn into a yes.

Priscilla Burris also spoke Saturday, and the core message she brought was…NEVER GIVE UP. Dan talked about this too, however, Priscilla had a way of sparkling and shining and installing this into our hearts. She even shared her own story of wanting to give up and how she moved past it with courage and acknowledgment that she, is, an, illustrator. I am an illustrator. I can’t quit what I am. From there she discovered what she is best at and focused on this core. I believe everyone experiences a moment or a twinge here and there of ‘I’m not sure I have the goods,’ but when you KNOW who you are, you stay the course. Why? Because you can’t be anything but that.

In an industry (publishing) known for it’s uphill trajectory, the reminder to ‘always say yes’ and NEVER GIVE UP paints a picture of why persistence is 90 percent of success. Both Dan and Priscilla modeled an unwavering commitment to their art and dream of filling the world with their creations. Sometimes it feels easier to give up or to forget our dreams, but those how live their dreams are those who truly dare to go for them!

Thanks to George Hellstrom, Alan Stacy, Diane Roberts and the North Texas SCBWI Chapter for an amazing event!

Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators