I went to the Chicago area to be on a panel for Anderson's Bookshop YA literature conference.
I was invited alongside hugely successful authors.
Authors whose books are movies and have their own shelves in bookstores.
For two days we ate together, worked together, laughed together, and talked to many, many people about young adult literature together.
And now that I am home and the exhausting blur of the weekend in behind me, do you know who I keep thinking about?
The kids in the schools that I was fortunate enough to go visit.
The kids with their big eyes and smart-alec comments and loud laughter and wiggling bodies.
The kids who listened and contributed and made me want to sit down and just listen to them.
The ones who said they hate to write.
The ones who stole the show and the ones who never said a word.
They were, by far, the highlight of my trip.
Every author I met was funny and successful and sharp and talented, every publicist committed, every speaker captivating. Truly I was humbled to be grouped anywhere near them- but the kids...
The kids made me feel the sheer joy of words. They reminded me how hard it is to get words right and how okay that is. They know you just keep trying and keep learning. They accept imperfections. They laugh about them. Maybe even prefer them.
And speaking of kids, my two favorite girls came to the schools with me and listened to mom, but during the conference when I was on panels and working hard they went exploring around Chicago with my favorite guy.
They now think business trips are nothing but awesome!
So after five exhausting days of travel and work and play, I want to say to every teacher I met who gives his/her all for the children, to every librarian I met who inspires the children, to all the students I met who opened their ears and their minds and let the words in-
I say to each of you, Thank you for letting be a part of your life for just a window of time.
I truly think you are magical.