We’ve all heard we must not let others define us. But last Saturday I did, and it was one of those *moments.* Whatever you may say about shoulds and shouldn’ts, there they are.
I attended a regional SCBWI conference. This unwieldy acronym stands for Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. You’d think such a literary bunch would have come up with a less awkward name, longer than some picture books. Regardless, it’s a good and supportive organization run entirely by volunteers, and it welcomes all from the never-published to veteran professionals.
I’ve attended this very conference before, three years ago. Back then, my father had just been admitted to the hospital in what I sensed would be the final time, and I hadn’t had any book accepted for publication. I felt my ever-present shyness more than anything else.
This time I returned as a PAL author. (PAL=Published And Listed, and “listed” refers to SCBWI’s own list of "legitimate" publishers. They are not as accepting of vanity and self-publishing.) Their conference had my book for sale, and I had a desk with my name on it for signing.
I feared no one will buy my small and un-jazzy looking book, stacked next to the very spectacular offerings from other authors. (Three of the authors are famous, at least in kid-lit, and others have very trendy looking books.) But it did sell, and I did sign some, and the separate session for published writers was useful to me. My father is in the next world. All an all, now is not three years ago…
I returned home with what DD described as a strange glow.
“I’m an author,” I said to my husband.
“I know,” he said. “That’s what it says on our tax returns.” He was looking at those on screen. I squinted and looked also.
“No, it says ‘writer,’” I said. “I’m an author.”
He and DD looked at me funny.
“I sign books!” I said. That was about all they could take.
They didn’t get it. But you might. The very act of signing a book I wrote, which a stranger had just purchased, was one of those moments.
Yes. I’m an author. And I’ve got the sign from the conference^ as a memento.