In 1984 my husband and I welcomed another baby boy -- so did Princess Diana! I devoured every tabloid story about her castle life, envying her heated towel racks and diaper warmer. Nannies and cute clothes. A chef! She was thin and pretty. Down the road I learned that along with our sons being born in the same years, she and I had had another thing in common: bulimia. I really felt for her.
But back to our new buddy: Cody Rob, his middle name after my brother. Because it snowed nearly eight months of the year in Idaho and temps often fell below zero (minus 33 one December), our favorite outing became the public library. Betty Holbrook, Pocatello's wonderful children's librarian, introduced us to a wealth of kid-lit. Oh those picture books! They were beautiful, evocative, and such fun to read aloud. Memories from my childhood flooded back.
Art Seidenbaum and I talked about the Children's Book Column for The Times. If it were available, I'd be so stoked if he would consider me.
Thankfully he did! In March of 1985, life became sweeter. When the UPS truck rumbled up the icy street, the boys and I watched out the window. Boxes delivered resembled treasure chests brimming with brand new, crisp-smelling, colorful stories and illustrations, just thirty-six pages, not hundreds. My lighter workload was heaven.
I signed up for a correspondence course with the Institute of Children's Literature, to learn about the craft. The lonely days of long winters with toddlers eased when the mailman would deliver a large white envelope, feedback from my scrawls. I worked on a novel about a California beach girl growing up in the 60s. In A Town By the Sea was coming from my heart.
As I watched Greg and Cody's faces light up when read a story, then their saying, "keep going!" and "more," I realized I wanted to write for children. If kids could grow up hearing and reading beautiful words, would it make the world a gentler place?
From LONGHAND: ONE WRITER'S JOURNEY, to be published Spring 2015