I finally got around to reading the proofs for the biography of Jerry Spinelli that I have coming out next year. It has only been sitting on my desk for a week. And it’s due before Christmas. Clearly my editor doesn’t realize that I’m knitting gifts, so everything’s due before Christmas. Besides, my upper back is still achy from marathon knitting and it deserved a break, even if my eyeballs didn’t.
I always dread reading my own work, but what I often realize when I do read it, is that I don’t entirely suck as a writer. Of course that’s probably the reason that one publishing house keeps hiring me back to write non-fiction for them, but it’s still disheartening that my fiction doesn’t get picked up by other houses. And as much as I know that I’m a fair writer, it’s still painful when the response to my work is silence.
My daughter and her teacher asked me to be one of their speakers for Career Week. At first I balked because none of my current books are for little kids. Then my daughter put on her pouty face and big eyes and asked me why I wouldn’t write for little girls and boys. Geez. I explained that just because I did write picture books, that didn’t mean that people were going to publish them. She couldn’t understand why. She’s my biggest fan. Seriously. So of course I’m going in next week Wednesday from 2-2:30 to talk to a bunch of 1st graders about what I do for a living.
Which brings me to talking topics: How do I prove I’m an author?
Is it the butt chafe from sitting at my desk for hours?
The ability to type entire pages with my eyes closed?
The ISBN codes on Amazon.com?
My name on the front cover?
My picture on the back flap?
The furrows forming permanent lines in my forehead from trying to squeeze words out of my head?
The desire to curl up into a ball and lie under the covers when someone says “no?”
The utter lack of cash?
The nearly-constant droning of fictional characters in my noggin?
The foolish bravery of trying to communicate with strangers?
Well, the answer is simple Descartesian reasoning. I am an author because I auth. I mean, because I write. And what kind of writer am I? In the Spinelli bio, an interviewer asks him to fill in the blanks of this sentence. “As an author I am like _______ because _______.” For me, I’d have to say I’m like a snail because I go very, very slowly. If you want to know what Spinelli said, you’ll have to read my book. Ha! But maybe you should try to answer the question for yourself.