I love school visits as an author. I loved them as a student, so of course they’re one of my favorite things to do now that I have my own name on a couple of books! To have an author come and speak, listen to your thoughts and ideas, and personalize a book just to you … there’s not much better to a young reader or writer.
I’ve been lucky to have done some author visits in great schools for some amazing kids. My very first one, nervous as could be, I walked in to find posters the school had made about my books, a big banner welcoming me, and a room mom who had HAND-DECORATED dozens of cookies with recreations of the illustrations of my book!! All this for someone with a couple measly contract books and zero experience as a visiting author … humbling to be sure! A little girl spoke to me at the end of that particular visit, telling me about the book of all her stories she kept at home. She was so excited to talk with another writer, someone who understood her passion, someone who wanted to hear about her notebook full of ideas. What a great thing to be able to offer a child with that much interest in language and literature!
Yesterday morning marked another school visit, and as always, it didn’t disappoint. At the outset, though, it seemed fated to fail. More specifically, I seemed to be fated to fail. Having spent the entire night up with a suddenly and severely sick dog, prepping my presentations and caring for our kids while my husband ran him off to the Doggie E.R. at 2am, I was definitely not in the ideal state of mind heading into the school. In fact, 15 minutes before my first presentation was set to start (50 two to four year olds, no less!), I was having a pretty disheartening talk with our vet and a subsequent sob in the car. Not a great time to go entertain preschoolers. I was pretty sure the school would regret inviting me.
And yet … that’s the thing about school visits. They can happen on the worst day. They can be completely overwhelming. There can be too many kids, too few teachers, too many tech issues, and too little compensation (none of which were true yesterday – just some of the things visiting authors face generally speaking). But at the end of it all, it’s pretty darn hard to have a bad day sharing an author’s passion for stories and ideas and books with a room full of beautifully awkwardly hilariously creative children.
Bad timing can’t hold that down. Especially when your day concludes with a little reader emphatically saying “You are my FAVORITE author in the WHOLE world!” while clutching your books like treasures. Her timing was perfect.