|Love my office!|
Kids always ask what it’s like to be a writer, so I focus one of my favorite talks on exploring that. The presentation works well for both in-person and Skype visits, and I can easily adjust the length and content for different ages and/or any curricular objectives a host school might request.
I start by giving students a peek at my office so they can picture where I work — then I briefly walk them through what they’re seeing to help reinforce the message that the writing I do to produce the books they read is my job. A fun job, for sure, but it does require dedication, hard work, and the mastery of certain skills and tools.
|Yes, that’s me. Age 4.|
Next, I take them back in time (way back!) to what I consider the beginning of my writing life. Some of the milestone activities I discuss as I track that life to the present include:
- being read to, which ignited a deep emotional attachment to books
- learning to read, which expanded my world; helped me understand myself and cultivate empathy for others; exposed me to storytelling techniques; and developed my sense of language patterns
- frequenting the library, where the possibilities for what to read next were endless
- learning to write, which freed me to experiment with words and all the ways one might try to arrange them
- beginning a personal writing practice (I kept diaries for more than 30 years, starting as a pre-tweener; these days I write daily Morning Pages instead, as that practice better supports the writing I do “on the job”)
- studying the craft of writing in school and, to be frank, doing so forevermore
- scoring my first publication credit, which led me to different jobs in the publishing industry before I wrote my first children’s book . . . which in turn led to my now having written upwards of 90 titles (and counting)
Only in hindsight did I recognize just how early those stepping stones on my path to becoming a writer started appearing in front of me. Is that destiny in action? I can’t answer that, but at this stage of my life, I can confidently say that writing is one of my body’s basic needs. I’d still do it even if I knew I’d never publish another thing. I’d have to.
Because writing is so much a part of me, I truly enjoy showing young people how I was able to turn something I love into a career. And I especially like helping them see the variety of ways writing, whether they do it seriously or just for fun, can enhance their lives now and in the future, no matter what paths they choose to follow.
For the privilege of doing all that, I am thankful indeed.