I was sitting in the McDonald’s halfway between Atlanta and Athens, Georgia on my way to my first day of college at UGA. My dad and I were sitting silently, eating our value meals, not discussing the importance of this monumental day, not even commenting on the floppy fries. So I just came out and said it. “Dad, what should I do with my life?”
He raised his eyebrows and prepared to give me his usual fatherly advice. Only he didn’t. “Well, what do you like to do?” was his only response. Man, that was cool.
I answered with the first thing that came to mind. “I like to write.” And I did. In fact, my most memorable day in high school came not from my prom night (though I could tell you stories about that), but the day my 10th grade English teacher held my creative writing assignment above my head and announced in front of the class that “Robin is going to be a writer.”
It took 17 years before I ever made good on that statement. Seven years of teaching middle school, running away to New Mexico to get out of The South, two years of social work, running away to California to get out of The Southwest, and the birth of my son really got in the way.
My husband, who is a photographer for the local paper, was the only one who knew about my secret desire to write for children. One Tuesday I got a bizarre phone call from him. He was whispering. “Honey, I’m sitting on the floor of a fifth grade classroom taking pictures of a children’s book author. You’re not going to believe this…but they’re acting like she’s a rock star!”
That author turned out to be Sherry Shahan, author of “Frozen Stiff” and “The Jazzy Alphabet” (among others). My husband put the cell phone down on the ground and I listened to her speak to an audience of adoring little fans. That night, it was decided. I would go to a Night Writers meeting in San Luis Obispo and take my secret public. It was at that first meeting that I met Eve and was introduced the wonderful circle of SCBWI members in our area. My lifesavers.
It’s been three and a half years since I started writing to be published. And what I’ve learned is that it really sucks. Okay, fine. It’s rewarding and fun and I’ve met great people. But it also sucks. And that’s what this blog is all about.