Thursday, April 26, 2007

The UPside

Maybe I love it because I used to be a teacher. Or maybe I just love being around kids. Even the middle school kids who have developed that "too cool" exterior -- I think they're a blast because by the time I'm done spazzing out in front of them, they've forgotten all about being cool. They laugh and gasp and elbow each other ("Did she really say that?") And they want to know why I'm wearing Converse shoes and "Are you ADD? ADHD?" and "Where did you get your earrings?" I'm talking about school visits. One of the fantastic things about being a children's book author is that schools all over the country invite you to give presentations to their student bodies...and they pay you to do it! A lot of children's book authors make their living, not through royalty checks, but by doing school visits. Besides getting paid, the cool thing about school visits is that you get to interact with the people you write for--kids. They love to tell you what they like about your books, and they love to tell you what they think should happen next (in a series). Through school visits you see again how important books are -- not just your book, all books. Kids share what they're reading, what they love, what they hate...and there are always a few who are dying to know how to become an author. Not a pop star or a rock star or an actress or the author. It's the thing they want most in the world. Anyway, I was away doing school visits the last few days, and I'm recharged with the value and purpose in what I do. I write books to help kids find themselves. For me it's about making them feel that they have enormous potential to do and be anything they set their minds to. Through my characters--or through relating the stories of my own struggles--I as an author have the opportunity to help kids believe that their dreams can also come true. I may only get royalty checks twice a year, but every time I do a school visit I get paid in ways that cannot be measured in dollars and cents. I get the priceless sense that what I do matters.

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