She ran with the robins, daydreamed in the treetops, doodled in the margins, and sleuthed out the mysteries of her neighborhood–all with a book in her hand.Eventually, she grew up.
Now, by day, she battles the evil of ignorance by arming the youth of her community with books, computers, and the skills to use them both.
At night, she journeys alone, exploring the power of Story and brewing new concoctions on her laptop until the sky dims and her head nods.
Amidst these callings, she matches wits with shape-shifting boys, a trickster dog, and a wise husband for dominion over the mountains of laundry and the most comfy span of couch.
Some say this may be her most difficult quest of all.
My writing career can be traced back to a battered red and silver Lund fishing boat. You see, I grew up in Wisconsin, and most weekends, you could find my family out on a lake, fishing for bass, muskie, perch, walleye, or whatever happened to be biting.
But I did not like to fish.
So, what’s a girl to do when she’s stuck in the middle of a lake for hours on end and there are no hand-held electronics to entertain her?
She brings a book (or ten). She carries a notebook and pencil (or two) for drawing. She daydreams a lot, watching the clouds swirl overhead. And, eventually, she starts thinking about writing her own stories.
Growing up, my parents gave me a lot of room to think about those stories (i.e. daydream) and wonder and try new things. When we weren’t out in the boat, my brothers and sister and I spent a good deal of time exploring the woods and building forts. There were also piano and clarinet lessons, crafts and sewing, drawing and painting, baseball and cross country running. And books. Lots of books. I attended a tiny elementary school with a tiny library, where I read through the entire biography section, in order, A-Z. Luckily, every three weeks my dad took me to the public library, where I’d check out 25–enough for a book a day with a few spares, just in case I had some duds.
When I went off to college, I wasn’t sure at all what I wanted to be. Finally, I settled on a career that allowed me to do a little bit of everything I was interested in: elementary school teacher. I taught for several years, but the books and stories were always calling to me, so eventually, I went back to school and got a degree in library science. I’ve been working in libraries ever since.
That whole time–from those notebooks scribbled as waves rocked the fishing boat, to my high school English teacher who kept returning my essays with red marks all over them–I knew that when I grew up, I’d write books for kids.
But it wasn’t until my second son was about six weeks old and we had just moved to St. Louis, that I finally realized I WAS grown-up–and if I really did want to be an author, perhaps I should try writing something. And so I did. I wasn’t successful right away–at least in not in the publication sense. What I was successful with was learning how to write better. So I kept at it, and, slowly, my writing got stronger.
Now by day, I wrangle kids, computers, and my favorite books as an elementary school librarian. And early mornings, late evenings, and on the weekends, I wrestle words onto the page. (I still wrangle kids then, too, but they’re my own.) Any time in between is spent with my family, walking/running with my dog and friends, not cleaning my house, and…reading more books.
To this day, I never go anywhere without a book and a notebook in my bag–you never know when boredom or inspiration will set in! And I still don’t like to fish. But daydreaming while floating in the middle of a lake with my family around me is now my idea of a perfect day.
Funny how that happens.