Training Wheels

Perspective is a funny thing. It twists your viewpoint around, so things you once knew to be true suddenly look very different. I recall many pivotal moments in life when this happened and the world shifted around me into a new shape. And that’s exactly what happened after I signed with my agent and got my first book contract.

Exactly one year ago, before I had either, like many aspiring authors I imagined getting a book contract meant you’d ‘made it’. I looked at published authors with a kind of awe. I imagined them to have answers I didn’t, to know things, to possess a kind of confidence I lacked. I was always surprised to hear when they expressed self-doubt about their work. I’d think: but they’re *insert-name-of-famous/successful-author here*. How could they doubt themselves?

I’m finally where I always wanted to be (and loving it by the way), but the world has shifted around me and suddenly I’ve realised that I’m actually at the very beginning again. It’s like graduating from junior school, feeling incredibly grown up, but then realising that you’re at the bottom of the high school. I still feel uncertain. I still don’t have all the answers. And I still feel just like me – a kind of dorky blonde girl who sits in the back room of her house, playing with words and colours in her PJs.

I may have a book contract, but I feel like I’ve just been handed my first set of training wheels. At first it terrified me – I worried I should have felt more professional and experienced – but I’ve realised it’s actually ok. I’m enjoying learning, figuring things out as I go, listening to more experienced people around me, growing with each step. I’ve recently received my first set of edits from my delightful editor and art director, and they have been so generous with their time and encouragement and feedback.

So I’m using my training wheels, gaining experience with each test ride and slowly learning to coast. Before long I hope to be riding with more confidence, maybe even leaving the safety of the backyard and taking to the roads. Then again, perspective is a fluid and flighty mistress. It’s likely that by then something else will have happened, and the world will have shifted once more…

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20 Responses to “Training Wheels”


  1. 1 Sybil May 7, 2010 at 10:58 am

    And remember, when you fall off the bike and lose your front teeth that it will take you no time at all to get cruising again… you just need to get back on the bike.

    Also, that kind of dorky blonde girl was/is awesome!! Coming from a completly dorky brunette

    I am in awe of how well you have integrated into this world, making opportunities to take the best of!

  2. 2 Tina C May 7, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Hey Kath

    I just want you to know that as training wheels go – yours have sparkling-bling and pizzazz and are the ‘bestest’ training wheels around!

    A lovely post about the shifting goal posts within this industry.

    Stay warm in your new cold town!

    Bye 4 now
    Tina

  3. 3 Sheryl Gwyther May 7, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Another excellent blog, Kath. I agree – even if you get your first book published, it’s still a matter of ‘Okay, now I’m at the next stage on this journey – eeekk, what do I do?’

    And what you do is exactly as you say, ENJOY IT and figure things out as you go. So proud of you, my dear girl!

    Hey, I’ve got a new blog espec for kids now – can I interview you for it soon? http://sherylgwyther4kids.wordpress.com :P

  4. 4 Kathleen Noud May 7, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Hey kid.

    Well, you’re always going to be a dorky blonde girl, but so am I which is why we get on so well.

    I’m so excited about your first round of edits! One day, you’re going to look back on all your nerves right now and laugh at yourself. Enjoy it!

  5. 5 Dee White May 7, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Enjoyed your post Kath.

    I know exactly what you mean. I spent five years doing a PWE course and thought I had learned so much, but when I started the edits for Letters to Leonardo it was like starting school all over again. Hope your editing process is as wonderful as mine was. I learned sooo much, and part of it was learning that I still have sooo much to learn:-)

    When it comes to perspective, I have NEVER thought of you as a dorky blonde girl:-)

    Dee

  6. 6 angela sunde May 7, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    Go for it, Kath! We are cheering you on! Great post too.

  7. 7 chrisbongers May 7, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Kath, you have the most wonderful perspective on the world of writing. I love the school analogy: just when you’re feeling king of the kids, you get promoted to big school and you’re small fry once again! I think the trick for all of us is to love that learning curve. :)

  8. 8 Jenny Prosser May 7, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    Better on a bike than the penny farthing I’m trying to peddle !
    But seriously Katherine , thank you for sharing your experiences so honestly and generously and….. don’t forget to celebrate just how far you’ve come on that “wobbly” bike. Well done !
    Kind regards.Jenny

  9. 9 Katherine Battersby May 7, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Sybil, I really hope I don’t lose my front teeth! And thanks for your lovely words, hon. At least we can be dorks together.

    Tina, I love the thought of bling on my wheels! And I love getting comments from you – they always make me smile :)

    Sheryl, yes please!

    Kathleen, surely we’re both so dorky (and proud of it) that we’ve come full circle and are actually cool? Right? Someone back me up here.

    Dee, already I’m loving the editing process, and I know I’m going to be a better writer and illustrator by the end of it. I suppose the fact that we’ll always have things to learn is what keeps us writing.

    Thanks Angela!

    Chris, so true. Loving the learning – it’s the only way (thank-you sensei).

    Jenny, a penny farthing! I haven’t thought of one of those since memorising Mulga Bill’s Bicycle when I was little :) And you’re right – we need to celebrate each step before looking forward to the next one.

  10. 10 Katrina Germein May 7, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    When you finish with your training wheels can I please borrow them?

  11. 11 Kathleen Noud May 7, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    It’s unquestionable, girl. We are the very definition of cool ;)

  12. 12 Jeffery E Doherty May 7, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    Katherine, I’ll have to take your word for it but I’m hoping to find out first hand. Thanks for letting me know what to expect.

    Jeff

  13. 13 Trudie Trewin May 7, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    What a universal truth, Kath! The more you know, the more you realise you don’t know (or something like that!)
    By the time we’re out on the road without the training wheels, it’ll be time to learn those jumps and spins and stuff!
    Cheers

  14. 14 Karin May 9, 2010 at 1:10 am

    Congrats, of course, on even getting to feel a life with training wheels…I can’t even imagine how that must feel, all those emotions all at once. But you got to this point so you can only move up from here…unicycle?!?! ;)

  15. 15 Katherine Battersby May 9, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    Katrina, I promise you that you don’t need them! You have long moved onto riding a big girl bike :)

    Kathleen, I knew you’d see things my way.

    Jeffery, I’m sure you’ve already had similar moments of learning along your own writing journey, but I also know you’ll get to this place soon too.

    Trudie, I think you’re already at jumps and spins. I might come to you for notes when they’re in my sight…

    Karin, if this whole journey involves a unicycle I’m in terrible trouble!

  16. 16 Susan Bonaci May 10, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    What a lovely post. I just love the way you simplify the writing process in a humbling way. It’s always inspiring as a new writer to read your posts.

  17. 17 Katherine Battersby May 11, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Thanks Susan. That really means a lot to me

  18. 18 Lynn May 12, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    So true. It reminds me of graduating from nursing school only to find myself at the bottom of the pile after all that hard work. I see similarities in the writing process as well. But I guess that’s what makes us better in the end. Transcending all mountains of challenge to strive for the top, over and over. I hope I run into you up there!

  19. 19 Scott Chambers May 12, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Great post Kath. Wow, if you can do this well with trainer wheels on, I can’t imagine the twists and turns you’ll be able to negotiate in your future plots when those wheels come off! I look forward to the roller-coaster rides =)
    Cheers
    Scott

  20. 20 Katherine Battersby May 18, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Lynn, so true. It was like that for me after uni too – you graduate feeling like you know so much, only to soon find out how much more you have to learn! Life is a bit like that.

    Scott, I never was very good at riding. Think I’ll keep the training wheels on for a while yet. Roller-coaster rides on the other hand – I love them! Bring it on I say :)


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About this Blog…

A blog of ramblings about the world of writing and illustrating for children, by an author / illustrator who might just have a thing for rabbits.

Katherine's picture books, 'Squish Rabbit' and 'Brave Squish Rabbit', are out with Viking (Penguin, US) and UQP (Australia). Please e-mail if you would like her to blog about something in particular.

All text & images  Katherine Battersby

Released Sept 2012:

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