Hidden Gems: Advice from one Author to Another, by Michele Weber Hurwitz

One of my favorite children's literature blogs (besides Smack Dab in the Middle, of course!) is Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations. Cyn's blog has a variety of features, including author interviews, guest posts, and new voices, but my favorite is the "Survivor" series, where Cyn interviews children's authors who have been in the business a long time. Arguably, it's even more challenging to maintain an active publishing career than it is to break into the field. Cyn asks authors to share what's kept them going, helped them thrive, and allowed them to continue to achieve publishing success.

I find a "hidden gem" of advice in every one of the "Survivor" interviews. Usually several. The authors are honest, forthright, funny, and inspiring. I learned that Cinda Williams Chima didn't publish her first novel until she was over fifty years old, but since then has published a book a year. That made me remember that whatever you aspire to do, it's never too late to start!

I also discovered that for K.L. Going, the reason she's continued to publish has been because of adaption. "Allowing myself to write in a broad array of genres has helped me to remain active as a writer," she said.

These gems came from Martine Leavitt: "I made choices at every juncture of my life that narrowed my options until the saying came true for me: I'm a writer because I can't do anything else." I love that she revealed that sentiment, because I feel the same! She also noted: "If I had been more self-promoting, I would have sold more books. On the other hand, if I'd been busy doing that, I may not have been at my writing notebook one quiet morning when the most important revelation of the book came." In our social media crazed environment, I appreciate reminders that the writing always should come first.

One of my favorite "Survivor" interviews was with Margaret Peterson Haddix.

 When asked what she would tell her beginning writer self, she answered: "That’s a little mind-blowing to contemplate. I think, though, that I’d give the same advice for a first book or a fortieth, or for any career in general. Do your best with what you can control, and let go of what you can’t. Of course you want your book to succeed, but understand that timing and luck can play a huge role; sometimes good books fail, and sometimes mediocre books succeed."

It's gratifying to hear reassuring advice like this from someone so prolific and successful.

And bits of inspiration, like this from David Lubar, makes me remember why I do what I do.

"We create things that have never been, but we do it in a universe a billion times larger than we can even imagine. On balance with that, as minuscule as we are, when we make a moment, a day, or a school year better for a young reader, or give an educator a tool to reach a student who thinks she hates reading, we loom larger than we can ever know."

Cyn, a successful author herself, is a huge supporter of fellow writers. Check out her blog here: http://cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com/

Michele Weber Hurwitz is the author of several middle grade novels. Her newest is Ethan Marcus Stands Up. The sequel, Ethan Marcus Makes His Mark, is coming this fall from Simon & Schuster/Aladdin. Find her online at micheleweberhurwitz.com.


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