I was the kind of kid who noticed the little flowers growing in sidewalk cracks, shaved my hairless doll's legs with a real razor, and stuffed olives up my nose just to see what
would happen. I pretended bits of glass I found on the playground were diamonds and went searching for clues to mysteries that didn't exist. I wanted to be a magician, a geologist,
a detective, a singer, and a radio broadcaster. A Charlie's Angel would also have been fine.
One thing I never thought to be was a writer. (Although I recently found out from my mom that at age nine I announced I wanted to publish a book. I don't remember this, but I believe my mom, of course.)
Near the end of my time in college, I took a children's literature class. Our final project was to write and illustrate a children's book. I stayed up all night to finish
my assignment in time, and I didn't even need to drink any coffee to do it! Writing that story made me feel like a kid again: It was like playing!
Over the next eight years, I did a bunch of things — like hanging out with college students, and kids, and women trying to better their lives, and making music with my husband,
and traveling to places like South Africa and Guyana and Italy.
Then on an airplane going to somewhere I can't remember, my husband asked me, "If you could do anything you wanted, and money weren't an issue, what would you do?"
I didn't even think about it. "Be a children's writer," I said.
And that's what I set out to do. And what I continue to work on being better at every day, by which I mean trying to become more honest. Being honest as a writer means telling the
truth about who we are, both the good and the bad.
Even though being the most truthful, imaginative, skilled writer I can be is very important to me, it will never be more important than my family. I have a wonderful husband (who
I will always thank for asking me that question on the airplane), and two very fun and inspiring daughters, Skye and Umbria (I call her Umi) — named for the sky and the ocean, two vast expanses that remind me to stay open to wonder,
possibility, and most of all, love.
Guest Post: "Starting and Persevering" on Cynsations (a comprehensive resource on all things kids' lit) – November 30, 2010
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Seattle Wrote (featuring Seattle authors) – Jan. 17, 2012
Cynsations (a comprehensive resource on all things kids' lit) – April 26, 2012