In my awkward unpublished stage, still unsure of my children’s book-writing ability, insecurity causes me to contrive misconceptions about agents, editors, publishers — all who seemingly hold my future in the palm of their hands —
- that they will be stuffy.
- that they own hard, plastic rulers to whap stupid writer’s knuckles.
- that they have a secret society where they laugh together about writing endeavors that are off the mark.
- that they are too busy to care.
Heather Alexander, editor of Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin, dispelled my assumptions with a welcoming smile. The thorough nature of my manuscript review indicated that she had not only read my manuscript, but she’d devoted plenty of thought and consideration into improving it.
She didn’t know it, but she verified everything Linda Pratt (also not stuffy, ruler-bearing, etc.) had said the week before — even though they reviewed different manuscripts. How could I not feel honored? Two pros cared enough to honestly and constructively help me in my craft. Heather provided confirmation that I had work to do — and she gave me additional tools to make my work work.
Ms. Alexander further dispelled the “too busy to care” misconception in the next day’s open mic sessions. If you’ve never participated in one, a writer reads his/her manuscript for a set time. During the reading the audience jots down comments and critiques. When others read, I barely find the time to say, “Good job!”, “Loved that squirrel!” or “You’d be good at voice-overs, too.”
But, among my critiques came a five-line note, signed by Heather, referring back to our review and reinforcing her advice. She remembered. That meant a lot to me.
Putting the ball in my court dispelled another misconception — that agents, editors, and publishers hold our future in the palms of their hands.
We hold our future. They just help us carry it.
Thanks, Heather for the “hut, hut, hike.” It’s up to me to see how far I can run with the ball.