One of the things I love most about writing for children is the major support network and generosity of the people in the business. I've never had a job where people are so incredibly kind and noncompetitive and sincere. And I've worked in medicine, social work, and teaching! Not that those colleagues weren't supportive, but this is a whole different world. A completely different level of niceness. It's like children's writers are inherently driven to help one another.
Of course, being a Disco Mermaid has its major perks because the support is three-fold! Those blog readers/book readers who support Jay also become connected to Robin and me. Blog readers who I become "cyber" friends with always ask for updates on Robin's and Jay's careers. It's like one giant, never ending web of friends. Seriously, we are undisputed evidence for the six-degrees of separation theory. I wonder if Kevin Bacon is reading? Hmmm...
But I digress.
My first official day of being a full time writer (Translation: Quit my day job and traded my skirt suits for sweat suits and hair products for hair scrunchies) was Friday August 2, 2002. I valet parked my car at the Century City Hyatt Hotel and nervously entered the giant ballroom that was buzzing with 1000 or so children's writers, all gathered for the SCBWI annual Los Angeles conference. I had just sped 3000 miles across the country a couple days before the conference in a move from the sticks of New Hampshire to the California Coast. And, man, did I feel like a movie star! Well, more like a wannabe movie star who had just jumped off the bus from the sticks of New England in my flannel shirt and Sorrel snow boots, hoping some big-time agent would discover me while I wandered the streets.
I must have looked like a scared child because almost immediately, the kindest woman appeared and said, "Are you alone, sweetie? Come sit with us!" And just like that, I was swimming among the "In Crowd" of the SCBWI. The woman was April Young Fritz, a fantastic YA novelist, whose first book had just come out. During the four-day conference, April and her pals took me under their wings, introduced me to everybody, and shared their meals with me so I didn't have to sit in a corner alone.
My six-year path to publication has been filled with that type of thoughtfulness from friends and strangers alike. Just the other day, I opened my mailbox to find a package with a New York return address. It was from longtime blog reader, Laura Ludwig Hamor, who sent me the most beautiful handmade bracelet and told me she had just been thinking of me and wanted to send some "Goodwriterluckiness." What a total sweetheart!
Just when I'm sinking to a new low in the "I'll never get published" pity party, I receive the most uplifting of gifts from a children's book professional I've never even met. So, thank you, thank you to Laura and all the other readers and friends out there who have provided unwavering support in my quest for publication. When I do get published, I will no doubt have the longest acknowledgments page in the history of novels!