One Small Yes At A Time

In the writing vocation, saying "yes" to stuff that's not initially exciting can lead to unexpected surprises. Let me give you a few examples from the last couple of years.

1. It's just one of those not-so-great book signings, right? But you meet Judy O'Malley, who picks up a copy of Monsoon Summer and asks about your future work. You tell her about a picture book work-in-progress set in Bangladesh that's got you stumped. "Send it," she says. You do, and she applies her mad editorial skills. Result: Rickshaw Girl, a novel for upper elementary readers from Charlesbridge.

2. It's just a standard author visit, right? But school librarian Linda Spence Griset Facebook friends you, and encourages you to try twitter because she thinks you might like it. You take her advice and start to tweet. She was right -- you like the challenge of communicating your vision in 140 characters or less. Result: Kids Heart Authors Day and countless other connections, like this one at Ypulse.

3. It's just another blog post, right? But Brian Kenney, editor of School Library Journal, sees it. He asks if it's been published in print, and you say no. "Let me mull this over," he says. Result: next month's feature SLJ article, "Straight Talk on Race: Seeing Stereotypes in Kids' Books."

Not everything we say yes to has a happy ending, of course, and sometimes we have to say no. But we never know which of the dozens and dozens of small steps in this stumbling-bumbling vocation might lead to a relatively giant leap. Bottom line? Keep walking, because you never know what's coming next.