One of the central ideas for this blog is that I hope to communicate about what’s going on right now. The life of a writer, I guess — not that my life is so exciting or brillliant, but, um, it’s all I’ve got. So over time I’ll talk about getting started on books, the challenges of revision, fan mail, reading book reviews, having ideas rejected, whatever is happening personally and professionally at the moment. Maybe even talk about coaching Little League or the deep joy of driving my green John Deere (it’s a farmer thing). We’ll see how it goes.
A few months ago, I received an email from a woman named Tammy Ellis-Robinson. She explained that she was the editor of Skribblers Magazine. Tammy invited me, as a local author, to speak at their annual celebration, scheduled for May 15th.
I responded with something like: “Huh? What? Why? When?” And I may have even thought, “How much?”
Tammy explained that Skribblers was a non-profit magazine dedicated to publishing children’s writing and artwork from the Capital Region in New York. She sent me a copy; I was instantly impressed — they publish in e-zine and print formats — and, of course, I told Tammy that I would be happy to help.
So a few nights ago, after wolfing down my oldest son’s birthday cake (15 candles!), I made the short drive to the event. I was greeted warmly by several volunteers and led into the auditorium. There were about 200 people in attendance, children and their parents — eager writers and artists and the people who love them. Tammy took the stage and won my heart. Because Tammy Ellis-Robinson was clearly a force of nature: dynamic, silly, dedicated, energetic, fun-loving, smart.
Next, Anne Marie Doyle introduced me to the crowd and I gave my talk. The event wasn’t about me, and I kept it short. Said some things, read some things, got out of the way for the night’s real entertainment. For then a number of proud children came up, one by one, to read their pieces.
I was stunned by the quality of the writing, the simple joy of being in that room, witness to all that blossoming talent and great energy. And I couldn’t help but feel at that moment that I had the best job in the world, that I was blessed to be invited into this scene, to be a small part of something so good, where the creativity of our children was nurtured and celebrated, and to meet remarkable people like Tammy Ellis-Robinson. It was a rewarding, uplifting experience for everyone fortunate enough to be there.
So check out the Skribblers website. It includes games, writing tips, and lots of poems, stories, and drawings. If you are from the area, sign up for a subscription — or encourage a child to submit a work. If not, you might want to use Skribblers as a model for a magazine in your own community. And if you are a teacher from the area, you may want to contact Tammy to see about getting Skribblers distributed at your school. Because I’m telling you, it rocks.
Congratulations, Tammy. Congratulations, kids. And a big round of applause to all you adults who were in the room that night, it couldn’t happen without your love and support!