Ten year challenge

Materials from my first creative writing class (cat not included), and the title and copyright pages from my upcoming book!

Hello! This is my new author website — and my blog. Welcome! I’m not yet sure of the shape this blog will take, but I’m guessing it will include news as events come up, and general musings on writing, books and inspirations. So thanks in advance for reading!

Lately there’s been a spate of posts on social media with the hashtag #tenyearchallenge, mainly showing people’s profile pics from ten years ago and now. While I’m not necessarily eager to look at how I’ve aged, it’s definitely gotten me thinking about where I was a decade ago. It struck me that on January 21, 2009, I was walking into my very first creative writing class. I was filled with excitement — and not a little trepidation.

I’d been eyeing the class listing at UCLA Extension’s Writers’ Program, but almost didn’t sign up. It took an evening hanging out with a couple of close friends from work to get me to take the leap. We were talking about dream jobs, and they’d asked me, “If you could do anything, what would you do?” I’d then confessed my long-held dream to write books for kids and about the class that had caught my eye: “Writing for Children: An Introduction.”

“Well then,” said my friend. “Let’s get you in.” He fired up his computer, looked up the class information and placed the keyboard in my hands. He had me register right there and then. I figured, What could it hurt? It was three hours every Wednesday night for ten weeks. Why not find out more about something I’d only contemplated in the abstract?

Little did I know that exactly ten years after entering that classroom, I’d be preparing for the publication of my first book. That first step set me off on a journey where I’ve discovered something that gives me joy and purpose. I also met some amazing people in that class, some of whom have become treasured friends for life. The teacher became a dear friend and mentor, which still blows my mind because I distinctly remember listening to her lecture and thinking, “Wow, that’s who I want to be when I grow up!” And as for the friends who made me enroll in the class — they were among my favorite people then, and they still are now. I’m so lucky to know them.

In that first class I faithfully took notes in a shiny new pink notebook, placed a folded index card scrawled with my name before me to identify myself to my teacher and classmates, and received handouts that felt like keys to a magic kingdom. After that I was hooked. I took more classes, and joined writing groups, and wrote pages upon pages, trying to figure out how to tell a story. I read stacks and stacks of books. I even wrote on family vacations.

And now, I’m looking at the bound galley of my novel, and marveling at seeing my name in print. It doesn’t seem real! That said, it hasn’t been easy getting to this point, and it’s definitely been hard work — but it’s work that I really love. I’ve learned and am still learning so much, ten years to the day from when I first took a leap. So as far as the ten year challenge goes, I’m full of awe and gratitude — and so excited to see what comes next!

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