I had no idea six months ago that I would travel with Alayna and Benji to see Nate play guitar and sing on stage, in a band, in front of hundreds of people.
Or that I would leave a beach with green sand on the big island of Hawaii to ride on the back of a rickety pickup truck with my sister-in-law and eleven strangers.
And I had no idea, after I signed my contract with Scholastic, what was in store for me. Following are just a few of the surprises I never anticipated.
I’m taking myself more seriously. I always felt like once I had that contract in hand, there would be this giant shift from unpublished to published, from writer to author. That did happen, but I didn’t realize that feeling would continue to grow. There’s something about updating my website, ordering bookmarks and writing my first proposal for a conference, that adds another layer of legitimacy on top of the book contract. It also adds a lot of fun, excitement and gratification.
I am stretched. It takes a different kind of writing muscle and a new level of confidence to write a proposal for the NCSS conference and a two-minute pitch for librarians I’ll meet at the Speed Dating Meet and Greet at TLA. My writing minutes, minutes that were once solely on my work in progress, are sometimes going towards marketing and promotional copy and school visit presentations. Honestly, I’m discovering that HER OWN TWO FEET is still a work in progress, just as much as the new manuscript I gave to my agent recently. The writing I do on its behalf now may be just as important as the writing that happened when crafting the story.
I am getting to know the story better. As I write proposals and librarian pitches, this story that Rebeka and I worked on for over a year, and pitched, and sold, is becoming even more clear to me. I recently heard Kate DiCamillo say, “I usually don’t find out what (my) book is about until I start to go out and talk to readers” (heard on the excellent podcast, The Yarn, #81). I am finding I know more about myself, and this book, as I try to explain it to others. I’m certain I will learn even more once it’s officially released and kids start reading it.
I am humbled. I have so many generous published friends who have offered to go to lunch or grab coffee or hop on the phone and answer my questions. They are looking out for me. They read my ARC. They give me tips and share their own experiences and tell cautionary tales and they don’t have to. They are busy people who speak at schools and conferences and work under tight deadlines and have a wide network of people to keep up with, and yet they take time to talk to me. Totally humbled and gobsmacked.
I see more of Rebeka! I’ve gotten pictures and videos I never would have gotten if our book wasn’t being published. There was the moment she first saw the cover.
The moment she saw the president of her country, Paul Kagame, holding our book with her beautiful smile front and center on the cover.
And there was an impromptu early morning phone call to say “hi” as she filmed a short video for Scholastic. Such a thrill!
All of this makes me look forward to the next six months before the book comes out with great anticipation. I don’t know what I’ll learn, or where I’ll find myself, but I can’t wait to find out!