Believe it or not, I was very shy as a child and teen. But even though I no longer have that awkward what-will-they-think-of-me frozen feeling, deep down it’s still there. Like everyone, I am every age I’ve ever been — that 5-year-old, that 10-year-old, that 15-year-old are still me, now wearing the veneer of an extrovert.
I’ve attended writing conferences for nearly two decades, always feeling like a pretender under that veneer. It’s like when I’d hang around with English majors in college–they seemed so sophisticated wearing their black and reading thick books. I was busy singing sorority songs and writing magazine fluff. I couldn’t even pretend enough seriousness to fit in with their conversations.
For a long time I felt that way at children’s writing conferences, too–everyone else seemed so much more knowledgeable. But a few years ago, during a trivia contest at SpringMingle’s evening festivities, I was goofing around and laughing (guffawing, really) with the others at my table, for once being totally my guts-inside-out self. . . when it suddenly hit me: This was MY tribe.
With these fellow children’s writers I could be totally myself–even jokingly cheating at trivia–and it was more than okay. We were friends and writing partners, not judgmental, but supportive as we each tried to add something lovely or fun or interesting to the world. I remind myself of this epiphany whenever that shy child inside tries to tell me I’m just a pretender.
So, thanks Breezers and other children’s writers, for creating this “tribe” where we can be ourselves and do our best work. And thanks to these specific Breezers in the photo, above, for coming to FoxTale Book Shoppe to support “our” newest tribal “baby,” Two By Two. I wouldn’t have this book without you.
And next time, I promise not to cheat at trivia.