Those of you who are long-time readers might think you've read a post somewhat like this before. And so you have, in a manner of speaking, and everything said in this year-old post (which lives on what was formerly the blog of the Bowen Press) absolutely still holds true. But I'm a pensive, reflective person by nature, so when milestones big or small roll around, you can often find me "thinking out loud," a.k.a., writing. I'm also someone who firmly believes that glancing backward on occasion can actually help you to move forward with greater intention and direction, so it's likely there will be a post of this nature every year. Consider yourselves duly warned.
In any case, today marks seven years for me working as a full-time industry professional in this world I love. I did have a handful of other lives before coming to NYC, so, alas, I'm not quite as young as that number makes me sound, but still--seven years! It feels like both a wildly long and remarkably short time, all at once.
My very first wonderful boss in publishing still likes to tell the story of offering me my first job, as a marketing/publicity assistant at Clarion Books. As she tells it, shortly after accepting on the spot and hanging up the phone, I called her back...to ask exactly what time I needed to be at work the following week. To this day, she's convinced that I called back just to be sure that she had really-truly offered me the job, and that I hadn't just imagined it! (I swear I wasn't. I simply had no idea what time grown-ups in NYC had to be at work!) Seven years later, I'm still relieved to know that publishing people don't--usually--have workdays that start at 8 a.m.! And I'm grateful for beyond words for that phone call, and for that boss, and for the way that first job of mine opened up the crazy-hard-to-break-into gates of the children's publishing industry for me, while also giving me the best grounding in the workings of the art and craft of book-making that I could hope for.
I'm lucky/blessed/extremely fortunate, there's no question about it. Even before that job offer, I had a string of amazing mentors--including stellar college professors, and the encouraging publishing professionals who oversaw my internships--who helped me begin to understand how my interest in children's books could translate into a real, live career. Seven years and a variety of job titles later, I've had even more incredible mentors--brilliant bosses and colleagues, dedicated librarians, and amazing writers and artists themselves, all of whom have shared their own wisdom, knowledge, experience, and passion so generously.
About once a week, it occurs to me that I actually have my dream job as a children's and YA book editor, and that's a fact I never get tired of remembering. It's a job that--to limit myself to an apropos seven adjectives--is alternately fascinating, wondrous, stimulating, terrifying, inspiring, joyous, and even, on occasion, heartbreaking. In short, it's a job about which I'm intensely passionate, because it makes me feel deeply, which in turn makes me feel more alive (so much so that only italics will do, even though I know I am overusing them in this post!) and, really, what more could anyone ask for than that?
In the last seven years, I've had the chance to meet--and even work with!--many of the authors who shaped me as a young reader, and whose books utterly influenced the person I am today. That's a more amazing experience than I honestly have words for, and I only wish I could go back and tell the young reader I once was that someday that would be the case, and watch her eyes nearly pop out of her head. But it's not only the long-established authors and artists with whom I feel privileged to work--it's been an equal joy to be a part of the process for so many creators of children's books--to being a force in the process of so many talented authors and illustrators finding their place in the world, and in the hearts and on the bookshelves of young readers. So today I thank those whose books I've had the chance to be a caretaker for, whether that has meant discovering your brilliant talents for my own small (but growing!) list and touching your words and pictures as an editor, or guiding you through the wilds of conferences, school visits, websites, and more as a marketer. Every one of your books has shaped me, and if they can do that for me as an adult, I can only begin to imagine the enduring power they'll have on the lives of many young readers! There's a quote I love that author Shannon Hale once wrote on her blog:"Life is cataloged by story." For me, at least, that statement is simply and perfectly true, and oh-so-wonderfully expressed. And so I thank the authors and artists with whom I've worked, for allowing your stories to be a part of my own catalog of story.
And to all those storytellers whose stories I don't even know about yet (or that YOU don't even know about yet, because they're still somewhere within you, waiting to be written), or whose books I've only had the chance to admire from afar? Well, seven's supposed to be a lucky number, right? So here's looking forward! I'm more than ready for the most invigorating year ever, and I can't wait for everything--the glorious-ideas-becoming-books, their brilliant creators, and the meaningful connections with booklovers, book advocates, and with all kinds of fascinating, creative, inspiring people imaginable--that will emerge in the year to come, shaping me, as we become a part of one another's lives and stories. My thanks, this time in advance, to you all.
Edited to add: I cobbled this post together in stolen moments today, and hadn't noticed how verbose & rambly I'd gotten until I posted! Sorry about that!