Last Friday was one of my First Friday Skype days, and I wrote this while I was between calls with some awesome kids.
I decided after my first book came out that I would offer four, free, Skype visits on the first Friday of each month, on a first-come, first-served, basis. This choice was made mostly because of my love of alliteration (ha!), but really, I wanted to make sure I set aside time to connect with kids, especially kids at schools that might not have the budget to bring writers and illustrators to the school to chat in person.
I just had a great visit with a 5th grade class in New Jersey. Later today, I’ll talk with some 2nd graders from Ohio. During our 30 minute chat, I tell the kids a little about myself, show some pictures of me as a kid, show them the very first book I “wrote” (it’s mostly drawings) at age 5, and talk about my inspiration for “Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse.” Then, I read the book, answer all their questions, and show them a couple books by other authors that I particularly love, plus ask for their recommendations.
On these Fridays, I don’t get much other writing work done, but the time spent with these kids, even virtually, fuels my work for weeks to come. Seeing a room of kids excited to talk about books? It’s really an adrenaline booster. All those hands in the air, those smiling faces—it warms my heart. This morning’s class had a prepared welcome written and presented to me by two students, and a closing thank-you as well. I got a little teary-eyed, I admit.
So much of writing is solitary. So much of the world-building writers do is all in our heads, and so, when a book comes out, and there are appearances and interviews, it can be very jarring, like, oh, this is what it’s like to be a human in a room full of humans. This is what it’s like to wear pants that have zippers and buttons (sweat pants, comfy top and slippers are my typical work uniform).
Since I’m still new to publishing, I’ll admit it’s a little surreal to hear kids talking about my book, still a little astonishing to get an email from a teacher wanting to set something up, while I wonder, “why do you want to talk to me?” That feeling is slowly fading, and I imagine once I have my next couple books out, it will fade some more, but for the time being, it’s still strange, yet wonderful.
I would have given anything to have met an author when I was a kid. I never knew this life was even possible. I wonder what would have happened if I’d made that connection earlier, if someone had shown me the possibilities? I’ve been thinking about a little girl who asked a question this morning, looking for advice, because she is already writing stories and wants to be a writer when she grows up. I don’t know that anything I said to her will change her life, but I do hope that the experience of meeting an author and hearing about when I was a kid just like her, with my own stack of paper and pencils and crayons, will let her know that her dream is most definitely possible.