Guest Post: Charlotte Watson Sherman

When Charlotte Watson Sherman reached out to me to let me know she had a second picture book releasing, I asked her if she'd like to write something for the blog. She offered to share her thoughts on perseverance. We're always interested in fresh perspectives on mindset, so here we are.

I interviewed Charlotte a couple of years ago when Brown Sugar Babe released. and gave away a copy of it. I'll be giving away a copy of Charlotte's brand new release, Mermaid McKenzie: Protector of the Deeps

Here's the book trailer for Brown Sugar Babe. And then you can read Charlotte's thoughts on perseverance.

TRUE TO THIS – Charlotte Watson Sherman

I’m not new to this writing life. I’ve dreamed of being a writer since I was nine years old and published my first poem at nineteen. But I’m new to writing for children in today’s marketplace. And the learning curve has been steep. Every day I wake up wondering if I should give up. And every day I keep going.

Years ago, when a group of dewy-eyed writer friends and a thirty-something me, sat with an esteemed writer whose first words were: “If you can stop writing, you should stop,” we were shocked. We reassured her (and ourselves) we’d continue writing for the rest of our lives. I didn’t understand then why she didn’t share our unbridled excitement. I understand much better now.

Years-Long Apprenticeship

There’s so much to learn during this years-long apprenticeship: character and world-building, structure, dialogue, pacing, plotting, humor, writing with heart, etc. Then, the rollercoaster of publishing. Rejection. Rejection. Rejection. The joy of acceptance. And publication. Then marketing and promotion. Algorithms. Reviews. Sales figures. Awards. Best of Lists. Or not. Then, facing the blank page (or screen) again. And again. Thank goodness we have resources like Storyteller Academy!

In addition to all of the writing loveliness, we’re also busy building a good life, in tandem with our loved ones. And our communities.

Life happens. And death. Even of writer friends, who may or may not have seen their dreams come to fruition.

And as wild as my imagination is, I never foresaw multiple pandemics, plague-year(s), that featured National Guard roaming city streets, so much hand sanitizer, and so many masks.

After the initial shock of Covid-19, and wondering if loved ones, let alone myself, would survive surge to surge, it was writing that saved me, one of the only things that made me feel better, gave me hope, made the world, even an imagined one, make sense.

Last summer, while lying on a gurney in the ER during a non-Covid-19 health crisis, back-scrolling through my life, I faced the fact that many unfinished writing projects and ideas might not ever see the light of day. Maybe I’d run out of time.

Strength to Continue

I wrote Brown Sugar Babe and Mermaid Kenzie: Protector of the Deeps as legacy books, titles I hoped to leave behind for future generations. Books for children that promote self-love and love for the environment.

And in the spirit of Mermaid Kenzie: Protector of the Deeps, it’s fitting that I gain strength to continue this writing journey wherever it might lead, from water. Though one of the softest substances in the world, and a shapeshifter, think of its strength:

Nothing is weaker than water,
But when it attacks something hard
Or resistant, then nothing withstands it,
And nothing will alter its way.

Tao Te Ching

Rejection could make us writers weak, but it doesn’t. The world of publishing can be resistant, but we submit our steady flow of ideas, poems and stories, again and again, not new to this but true to it. 

Book Giveaway

I'm grateful to Charlotte for sharing her experience and perspective. So, to celebrate the release of her newest picture book with Geneva Bowers, I'm giving away a copy of Charlotte Watson Sherman's shiny new Mermaid Kenzie: Protector of the Deeps. Just comment on this blog post to enter. 

For additional entries, you can share the post on social media and post a link to where you’ve shared in the comments (preferably as a comment to your original comment so that all of your entries are grouped together). 

I’ll close the contest at midnight, Pacific Time, on January 30. Thanks for reading and sharing!

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Myrna Foster
Myrna Foster

Myrna Foster writes and edits content for Storyteller Academy and the WriteRiders Newsletter for SCBWI Nevada. She has spent a lot of time teaching and coaching children, including five years as a preschool teacher. She's also worked as a journalist, and Highlights High Five has published six of her poems.

62 thoughts on “Guest Post: Charlotte Watson Sherman”

    1. Beautiful…. display of strength and weakness of water…. like children interesting gentle subject in these mysterious times of COVID

  1. This was a great post! Charlotte's attitude and experience are so inspiratonal. I hope to read both of her books! I especially relate to “rejection could make us weak but it doesn't.. . . we submit our steady flow of ideas again and again, not new to this but true to it. ” Excellent advice!

    1. Nature teaches us. I particularly love the element of water. One of my favorite quotes from when I was a kid is “Be like water, fit the space” – Bruce Lee
      I don't usually think of the perspective of a crashing torrential fall or the crushing steadfastness of the ocean.
      Water wears down and it chips away at anything resisting its path. Or it'll carve its way around it.
      As a beginner on this writing journey I appreciate this great post on perseverance 👏 😌❤

  2. Susan Breakiron-Lowe

    What a wonderful blog! I've always admired the power of water. You put this into a new perspective for me. Thank you. You have filled my day with inspiration to continue writing, no matter what. Sometimes I question myself if I should continue to write. I have many ideas, two finished stories as well as unfinished manuscripts. Just to leave the stories for my grandchildren is one dream. Being published is another dream.

  3. Such wonderful heart-felt advice. It’s a helpful reminder to hear the struggle is real for others too. We must enjoy the journey as much as the view!

  4. I loved reading the words that moved Charlotte, too: that “if you can stop writing, you should.” Because writers know we can’t, in our souls. It takes a conscious choice to stop, and one I’ve been making all too often these days. With that framed in my head, I can stop procrastinating and let myself do what I’m meant to do: write. Thank you, Charlotte, and thank you, Myrna, for bringing me here!

  5. I am new to storyteller academy and Inamnexcited tonlearn more as an aspiring childrens book author. I have a seriously large series to complete. Lol
    I also work in an elementary school library in the 5th largest district in the country.
    I would luv, luv, luv to have a copy of her book!

    Thank you!!

  6. I love the idea you mentioned of thinking of books as legacy messages for the future. And I love the cover art of Kenzie and her animal friend!

  7. Stephanie Golden

    My 8 year old daughter would enjoy this lovely book. She has a passion for animals, the environment and being kind. She is definitely a free spirit. She wants to write books also.

  8. Thank you Charlotte for being authentic and sharing the challenges you faced in life and in writing, submitting, and receiving rejections. I'm glad you're in this space encouring young children and readers to be imaginative and engaged with the world around them.

  9. Steena Hernandez

    Thank you for sharing these valuable words of inspiration! I needed to read this today, and I appreciate the giveaway opportunity. Mermaid Kenzie Protector of the Deeps sounds and looks amazing!

  10. “If you can stop writing, you should stop,” I just retired. I ran into a friend from high school, who immediately asked, “are you still writing?” I will never walk away, I will never stop. My very legacy depends on it.

  11. Gillian R Bosonetto

    I'm encouraged by her focus on perseverance, especially when there is so much distraction and competition. Water is a good analogy for how powerful we could be, with patience and persistence.

  12. So excited to read her books and to celebrate another Storyteller Academy success story. It's stories like Charlotte's that keep us writers' persevering through the rollercoaster adventures of writing and publishing. Thank you for sharing, Myrna!

  13. Thank you Charlotte. Loved the analogy to water. Write because you have to. Publishing will come if you persevere… or not. It really doesn’t matter as long as writing makes you happy.

  14. I am so very inspired by your work! I too have been very passionate about writing since 4th grade (about 9 or 10 years old). As an Africa American aspiring writer, you have sparked a flame under me with your Children’s books! Since the birth of my first grandchild four years ago, I have been seeking out relatable Children’s books for her. Thank you for adding to that list!

  15. Charlotte, this post inspires me in so many ways. Writing is what has saved me during this pandemic as well. Thank you for sharing your journey and giving me hope that it's worth pushing through the rejections.

  16. Martha Hollenhorst

    I liked Charlotte's comparison of the creative process to water. We create because we must create. Rejection is inevitable. We need to create despite setbacks. Like water, we need to be relentless. Charlotte's story was encouraging.

  17. Truly inspiring! I read this just when I was looking through the stories I wrote as a child with unfettered imagination, and wondering how I can tap back into that kind of fearless storytelling again. Thanks for sharing!

  18. I’ve not written anything if consequence in ages. I’m writing most days, at least a few lines in a journal, but that creative spark? I miss those ideas scrambling to get out. It’s finding time and space; headspace—soul space. And yes, every time I think of the real process of publishing? Phew! You all are rather intrepid!

  19. Wonderful read! Thank you for sharing! My daughter was looking at my phone whilst I was reading your post and she’s curious to find out what the mermaid is doing 🙂

  20. I love that the books are about self love and love for the environment. Those are 2 of my favorite themes I look for in children's books.

  21. Wonderful post. Thank you for sharing. Legacy books are important.
    It’s great to see more books including diversity but that doesn’t highlight it as the main theme.
    Writing is hard. Publishing is harder. That is what I’m finding out through the many stories shared within Storyteller.

  22. Perseverance is the key, I believe. It's good to hear someone that made it a go of it had the fortitude to dig in and keep going. Your books are needed in these days and times.
    I have no problem with time, ideas, and rejection (guess I am a weathered writer). Good luck with your future endeavors! So happy you doing well!!!!! 😉

  23. The words, ““If you can stop writing, you should stop,'” hit me hard. I've been writing since I was eight. I wrote fanfiction before I knew what fanfiction was. At twelve/thirteen, I discovered online groups (with my parents' permission to use our dial up), but I never really involved myself with writing/fan groups until I was twenty-one. They inspired me to continue writing and I realize now I definitely need that push. I haven't fully-written anything in almost 3 years! I did start journaling last year and I never stopped /talking/ about writing. Just last month, I finally began doing what I used to do ALL the time: write bits of poems or stories on pieces of paper I'd find lying around. Friends and I would always joke about writing children's books together, but now I'm (almost) ready to see it happen! I'll be signing up for Plus as soon as I financially can. But until then, I will /not/ stop writing!

  24. Crystal Davenport

    What I always find interesting is how similar writers stories are and how they are always compelled to contribute their voice to the world. I am deeply trying to accomplish that feat. I believe I will do so…soon.

  25. Thank you for sharing your experience. We need encouragement and to be tight together. Storyteller Academy is one of our bond. I'd love to read Kenzie's story and pass along the love. Good luck, Charlotte.

  26. Thank you for the “nudge” to work even harder when the going gets rough! Love the Tao Te Ching quote. Can't wait to read this book – I'm writing an article featuring books on saving the environment/climate change advocacy for all ages and hope to include your book!

  27. Pamela Courtney

    I'm so glad I stopped by for this post. Grateful for the insightful inspiration on this page. Writing has been a respite and a source of contention (but in the best way). Writing and the people in this kidlit community have been my soft place to land. Truly grateful for this post. Thank you Charlotte and Myrna.

  28. This is a wonderful post. There is no success if you let rejection keep you down. Perseverance is the key. Thank you for sharing!

  29. Regina Sanders-Raby

    Charlotte’s inspirational article speaks truth verys loudly! Be patient in persistence and perseverance and your dreams and efforts will pay off!

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