It was just time to let it out.
I've done a lot of things from my own home: read hundreds of children's books, maintained a children's book blog, written a half dozen manuscripts, kept a running list of book ideas. But those were all done mostly in private and, I confess, largely in pajamas. Late last year I wanted to go public with my dream. I aimed to (enter drumroll here) attend a conference! Yup, you know you're big time when you attend a conference. I was already a (low-profile, hardly contributing) member of the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators, so I stepped it up and signed up for their annual winter conference in New York City. As I signed my writer self up for the conference, I made realistic goals for myself: meet people, learn a lot about the industry, look for publishing opportunities, pick up writing tools, get inspired and motivated.
About a month before the conference, I realized that I needed to have something in my wallet: a business card! My very own business card! Yes--that was going to be my Valentine gift to myself. I was full of daydreams: I envisioned writer Kate confidently introducing herself to another writer or publisher or illustrator, having a charming and witty and intelligent conversation, and them wanting to get in touch with me. In my daydream, I reached into my purse and pulled out a business card and said something clever and confident and funny while exchanging contact information.
And then, overnight, my manuscripts would be in the right hands. TA-DAA!
So I ordered up some business cards. And I was as giddy as my kids on Christmas day when they arrived. Here's what was suddenly in my wallet, much to my own excitement:
So I attended said conference and had a great time achieving my goals of, basically, being an observant bump on a log. Meeting people was a little more difficult even for extravert me. But, on the second and final morning, before a bunch of awards were given out by a super successful author (Jane Yolen!) and wildly successful illustrator (Tomie dePaola!), I sat next to an illustrator who lives near me. After chatting for about ten minutes, I worked up the urge to say, casually: "Want to exchange information?" as if this was the normal thing to do. Really, I just didn't want to get back on my southbound train with all 60 of my brand new business cards. 59 would be so much lighter, easier to carry...
She said, "Oh yes!" And as she fumbled through her purse to her wallet, where she grabbed her business card, we exchanged a hearty laugh at the fact that we had BOTH gotten these business cards for ourselves for this conference, and this was the very first time we had pulled one out.