For any aspiring Picture Book writers and Artists, it might help in your struggle to know that there are many wonderful positives involved in being a successful freelance writer and/or illustrator. The affirmation and adulation ;-) (Well, not quite adulation but people saying nice things about what you do anyway). The satisfaction in knowing that you are making a half decent living doing the thing you are good at and love doing. The warm glow that comes with knowing that children all over the world have made your work part of their bedtime ritual, at least for a while. That kind of thing.
But if I may inject a word of caution, while enveloped in this happy haze it is easy to forget that the freelance writer's and illustrator's life has it's downside, and that coming up sharp against it can be a bit of shock.
You expect some tribulation on the way up as it were, but once a certain level of success has been achieved, you would be forgiven for feeling that once you have finally 'arrived', and the public like what you produce, this state of affairs is now set in stone and will continue ad nauseum. . . All you have to do is just keep it coming and all will be Hunky Dory.
Bubble bursting time ;-)
Sticking with David Bowie for the sake of a bad joke, you may find things drifting away from Fame and starts heading towards Low. . .
Confidence is a fragile thing. Not so much self confidence, speaking personally anyway. I always assume, rightly or wrongly, that I will be able to come up with the goods, but confidence that what you produce will be what anybody actually wants is a fragile thing. I always say that an artist's best attitude, psychologically, towards the opinions of other's and towards possible rejection, is to assume that everybody else is wrong. "The fools don't understand my art!" kind of thing. This sounds arrogant and possibly delusional, but it keeps your self belief intact.
The alternative position - vis - "Oh God, I must be totally crap!" isn't useful in any way. It's not going to help you persevere with your endeavors. And you need to persevere. It's bloody hard. Strong self belief helps, justified or not.
The more alert amongst you might have detected a personal note in all this speculation about rejection and downsides. Well done ;-) yes, I am in the middle of what can be called 'A fallow period". Ideas rejected right left and centre, inspiration at an all time low. All that stuff. Not much fun.
So what do you do about it? You carry on. You work through it. You analyze, and adapt if you feel it is needed. You draw on your inner strength and your faith in your own abilities, that's what.
You have to believe that it is just a passing phase, and that things will come together in due course. Though like most things, this is easier said than done.
Remember, you are in it for the long haul, and that time will take it's toll. The low level anxiety and uncertainty of many years of freelancing can engender an unwelcome and unhelpful weariness sometimes. . .
But enough whingeing! Styles do go out of fashion. Editors want to create their own lists of artists and writers and not keep using the old guard ad nauseum. Of course they do and of course they should. It's the way the World works.
For my part, I comfort myself with the thought that emotional connection with your audience doesn't go out of fashion, neither does humour nor using animals as protagonists. I probably need to take some time out to draw breath and reconnect with the reason I wanted to write and draw in the first place, then return, refreshed and full of killer ideas. Ho yes.
The funny thing is, that despite the angst ridden wallowing detailed above, the second you get an idea accepted you snap out of it like it never happened. . .
Chin Up ;-)