Career Day!

I headed over to the middle school again this morning for another round of career day. While I offered to talk about being a librarian or an author, no one seemed too keen on learning about being a librarian. (Surprised?) For the kids who wanted to know about being an author, their actual interest seemed to span a fairly wide range of “really want to know and ask questions” to “I have no idea why I came to this presentation in the first place.”

I did three different forty minute sessions for groups of 7th and 8th Graders. About a third of them had already read some of my books, and they all had nice things to say. (That’s far from a guarantee when you’re dealing with readers, especially kids. They’re not afraid to tell you exactly what you did wrong and why. Sure, maybe it’s a bit low on tact, but it’s often quite refreshing, especially since if they tell you they liked something, you know they’re usually not just being nice.) Doing three sessions like that back to back can be a bit dizzying, as I quickly forgot what I’d told one group and hadn’t told another. Still, they all seemed to have a good time.

As far as what advice I gave for people wanting to become authors for a career? Have a plan B. I emphasized authors typically don’t make enough money to live on, even if they’re relatively successful. It’s important to write because you really love to write, not because you think you’ll get published and become rich. Don’t just start to write books: finish writing books. Always be writing something new: don’t just rely on revising the same book over and over again. Have other people read your work and give you feedback, ideally from people who aren’t related to you. You can major in creative writing, but it won’t necessarily give you a leg up on being published, so it can be very useful to take classes in creative writing, but major in something else you’re interested in (hopefully whatever your plan B is).

All of these are basic questions I just take for granted people know the answers to, so it’s easy for me to forget not everyone does. I also went over the basic path a book takes to get published through the traditional route. All told, it went well, and hopefully some of them learned something. Hard to tell sometimes . . .

Leave a comment