I am in awe of authors and illustrators. They create stories that make their readers laugh, cry, relate, think, dream, question, and hope. I would imagine their business can be lonely at times. They must need to grow thick skin to face rejection and then feedback from editors in their long journey to getting a book published. Before social media I thought they were holed away with little to no contact with the outside world.
Over the past three years I have learned that authors and illustrators are, in fact, very connected to the outside world. I’ve been tickled pink to learn that authors are very close to other authors and truly cheer each other on. They read each others’ work. They are fans too! They promote each others’ book birthdays and publicly give shout outs to one another. It does make sense: you become friends with people who share your interests. They also connect with their readers. More than I could have imagined.
Yet there is one more thing I’ve learned about this talented bunch: they are truly thoughtful, caring, kind individuals. I think it must be part of the job description. Yesterday, for instance, I looked in my school mailbox and found a bubble envelope addressed to me. I couldn’t believe what I found when I excitedly ripped open the flap:
Yes, you’re looking at that correctly: an advanced reader copy of Wish by Barbara O’Connor. Barbara is beloved at my school. She has done author visits with us for over a decade. This year she moved down South and we had to face the fact that all good things must come to an end. I’ve kept in touch with her through Twitter and Facebook and recently saw a picture of her huge batch of ARCs. I thought, “Oh, I would love to read her new book but I don’t want to reach out. That’s so grabby.” Imagine my surprise when she thought to send me one without my asking! It completely made my day…probably my week! How incredibly thoughtful and generous of her to think to do that.
Cynthia Lord pulls at my heart strings at least once a week with a Facebook post. She really cares about her readers and uses social media to help others. A few months ago Cynthia posted about a public library in Maine that did not have a large budget for books so she asked friends to help. The library was flooded with donations sent in from kid lit people near and far. What an amazing way to use her powers for good!
Last night I read Colby Sharp’s post about author/illustrator Bob Shea. Bob likes to bring up a student from the audience to help him draw when he does a school visit but this is not a random act. He asks ahead for the name of a student who could use a boost. On this particular visit he was given the name of a little girl whose family just lost everything in a house fire. Not only did he bring the little girl up to draw with him, but he tweeted out for help replacing her books, bookshelf, and writing desk. The outpouring of generosity and love has been overwhelming. Again, here is an author using his powers for good!
Those are just a few examples of how these extremely talented authors and illustrators use their pull to help brighten others’ lives. They positively impact so many. What a humbling, incredible, noble profession. I am in awe.