Some say writing is a solitary sport. But, I wholeheartedly disagree. While I may create, revise, delete and rewrite at my computer by myself, well with my beagle Lucy sleeping under my chair, I have never felt alone. That’s the funny thing about writing for kids. Along the road to YES, I’ve happily become a part of an amazing community. It’s filled with people who are gracious, smart, kind, and genuine. From my EMLA agency family, to my VCFA writing retreat gang, to my Sweet 16ers, writing friends, book journey educators, teachers, and librarians, I feel wholly grounded and connected. This community offers inspiration, guidance and encouragement. Sometimes they don’t even realize the impact or reach of their kindness. Often their gracious sentiments lead to a happy dance replete with hopping feet, swaying arms and bobbing head! This group of amazing talent fills my community, my writing world. So even when I’m sitting at my desk writing in my office, I’m never truly alone.
This sense of connection and belonging transcends the page. While we, as writers, need to connect with our characters and our story, we also need to connect with readers and educators and each other. We need to know who’s got our back. We need to know who will bring ice-cream when it’s the worst-kind-of-day and who will cheer the loudest when a woo-hoo moment requires celebration. I imagine this sense of belonging is of equal importance to our readers. The kids, just like those of us who write for them, need to know they’re part of something bigger then themselves. Community is the safety net that grounds us, refuels us, inspires us. It’s strong, well-woven and unconditional. The page may be where it starts, but that is just the beginning.
So to my writing community (and of course the family and friends who make up my life community), I just want to say thank you for never letting alone ever feel lonely.
Elly Swartz is a middle-grade author whose debut novel, FINDING PERFECT, comes out October, 18, 2016 (FSG). FINDING PERFECT is a middle grade story about a twelve-year-old girl named Molly, friendship, family, betrayal, OCD, and a slam poetry competition that will determine everything. It took thirteen years, numerous drafts, many Twizzlers, loads of hugs, and much unconditional love, to find her way to YES. Through the years, Elly’s been a Sesame Place ride operator, messenger, lawyer, legal author, and college essay adviser. She lives in Brookline, Massachusetts with her husband, two sons and beagle named Lucy. If you want to connect with Elly or learn more about what she’s working on next, you can find her at www.ellyswartz.com, on Twitter @ellyswartz or Facebook.