Monday, October 8, 2012

Guest Post: The Journey of a Lifetime by Natasha Yim

My new book Sacajawea of the Shoshone is the story of the Native American teenager who traveled the American West with Lewis and Clark. It was just released on Oct. 1 by Goosebottom Books, and is an addition to their award-winning first series, The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Real Princesses. While conducting the research into her remarkable life, I was really struck and awed by Sacajawea’s resiliency in the face of hardship, tragedy, illness and often inhospitable terrain, all while caring for her infant son. Her journey was frequently harsh and interrupted by setbacks, but she persevered and triumphed to become one of the most famous women in American history.

Writing, I’ve found, is often like Sacajawea’s journey. Some days, you’re struggling against the strong currents of the Missouri River and you have to “get out of the boat”, grit your teeth, and tediously pull your story along. On others, you’re really cruising along on the swift rapids of the Columbia River. At times during the writing process your mind stumbles on the sharp rocks and prickly cacti of the Rocky Mountains, but then it bursts through to the sun-drenched Wieppe Valley where food/ideas/creative juice is plentiful. It is not an easy path, but the only way to get through to the other side is to keep at it.

Let’s face it. Most of us writers don’t get rich off our writing. We write because we’re passionate about it and there are stories within us yearning to get out. We weather the hazards and setbacks—rejection letters, endless revisions, writer’s block, mediocre sales—because we enjoy the process.

I’m a quote collector because I find quotes by other authors inspiring, and one of my favorites is by Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull: “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” For most of us, the ultimate goal is to get published. If we give up and stop writing, we’ll never get there. However, if we push on, no matter how long it takes or how many setbacks we encounter, we’ll eventually achieve our goal. My upcoming picture book Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas (Charlesbridge Publishing, 2014) is one such a story. By the time this book is published, its journey to publication would have taken nine years!

The thing I love most about the writing life—whether it’s the creative process itself, fighting our fear of public speaking at school visits, meeting fellow writers at a conference—is that it’s an adventure with many surprising, satisfying, if not always painless, twists and turns. So, whether you’re just getting started in writing or you’ve been at it for awhile, sit back and enjoy the journey. You’re in for quite a ride!

About the Author

Natasha Yim is a children’s book author, freelance writer, and playwright. She is the author of three picture books: Otto’s Rainy Day (Charlesbridge Publishing, 2000), which was a Kids' Pick of the Lists selection, Cixi, The Dragon Empress (Goosebottom Books, 2011), and the just released Sacajawea of the Shoshone (Goosebottom Books, 2012), the biography of the Shoshone teenager who traveled the American West with Lewis and Clark. Sacajawea of the Shoshone is an addition to Goosebottom Books’ award-winning first series, The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Real Princesses. Natasha has also published articles in Highlights for Children, Appleseeds, Faces, Vibrant Life, Mendocino Arts, and other local and regional magazines. Her ten-minute plays have been performed at Mendocino Community College in Ukiah, Pegasus Theatre in Guerneville, Secret Rose Theatre in Los Angeles, and at the Short and Sweet Ten Minute Theatre Festivals in Sydney and Brisbane, Australia.

Contact Natasha