NEW YORK, NY — Last week I was given the great honor of speaking to the children who went to work with their parents at Random House on Take Our Children to Work Day.
At first, the crowd didn’t look too big. I can handle this, no problem! Note the blue tape on the floor. It created a “stage.” It was the boundary line between author and fans. It meant CROSS AT YOUR OWN PERIL — in either direction.
A very nice lady named Robin came all the way from their Westminster facility to introduce my editor Anne Schwartz to the crowd. She tells everyone that an editor has a very important job — to look for writers and to help turn their work into books. Note the rebel tape sitters.
She alone has published all of my books, and she tells them that I’ve written many picture books as well as many chapter books.
Worse, Anne is now hurrying through her words . . . I’d hurry too if I had to speak in front of all these tape sitters, crossers and leaner-inners! Note the kid in the bottom left in a sprinter’s start position. Yikes!
By now I can’t hear Anne at all. Her lips are moving, but all I hear is my blood exploding in my ears.
I have no idea what she’s saying. (Sorry, Anne! I know you had nice words for me, but I was so nervous!)
Worse, I have no idea what I’m going to say!
What do you say to a crowd that included numerous sniveling, onion-eyed, book-gripping Shakespearean princes and fairies???Oooh, I wanted so much to put the day in reverse and go home! Authors, as everyone knows, are supposed to be read, not seen! I’m really much better on the page than I am in person. When I speak, sometimes my tongue skips ahead of my brain, other times, my brain races ahead of my tongue. I trip over words. I tango with my thoughts. Anything could happen! You’ll love my books, but I’m not sure you’ll love me . . .
Suddenly, all my insecurities spill out, just like that.
Worse, Anne smiles at me and gives me the mic.
I have no idea what happened next.
But here are some pictures that show I was at least on my feet, and that the wonder and excitement of my books was the direct cause of some mania, at least in the front row:Not only was I about to put one foot in the grave (above), there were signs that I was about to have a very humbling experience (below) . . . watch the tape: What to do when blue duct tape is more fascinating than you:
2. Do not think about how you pale in comparison.
3. Do not think.
4. Do not even think of thinking.
When you’re an author, you will have many humbling experiences.
1. Wear hose.
2. Take off hose.
After that, I signed books for all the little darlings in my Random House family 🙂 :At the very end of the line was Chaz, my biggest fan of all, who had brought all his worn copies of Alvin to be signed:Isn’t that fantastic?!!! He knew it would take me a long time to inscribe all his books, so he patiently waited at the end. Thank you, Chaz. You’re a true gentleman!!! You could teach Alvin a few things!
Here’s copy editor Colleen Fellingham, who catch all me misteaks and fact-checks everything, with her pink pencil at the ready:This is the amazing book designer, Rachael Cole, who makes my books look as beautiful as they are:Here’s Anne’s editorial assistant, Stephanie Pitts, who’s super-duper efficient and makes everything run smoothly:Anne in her office:I get inspired with a new idea every time I see Anne. And walking into her office is tantamount to walking into a sacred place for me. This is the birthplace of so many absolutely amazing books.
Here’s a parting look at the Random House lobby where the first edition of every book they’ve published is on display: I’ve never looked for my own books here, where Pulitzer Prize winners, National Book Awards and classics such as Catch-22, are prominently displayed. It would be too humbling an experience to bear.
Thank you, everyone, for inviting me to be a part of your special day. It was really wonderful and exciting to meet so many of you and to sign books for all my young readers 🙂 🙂 🙂 !!!
I love my Random House family!!! XXOO