|With my big sisters, Janet (left), Gail (center), |
and Patty (right). I'm the peanut in front.
When I started college, I planned to be a veterinarian. My first creative writing class killed that plan, and I knew I would do something with books, reading, and writing. That something turned out to be LOTS of things.
First, I became a magazine editor. When the publication was sold, I decided to try teaching (I was certified for Secondary English). I taught 8th-grade English for two years, and it was exhilarating, exhausting, and life-changing. I knew I did not have the stamina to stay in it for the long haul and try to be an amazing teacher while dealing with administration, assessment (even back then!), politics, and parents. But I loved my 8th graders and their wild creativity—and the books we were constantly reading.
|Our two daughters, ca. 1998|
Then my husband and I moved to Minnesota. While doing freelance writing for grown-ups, I held part-time jobs over the years as a copyeditor, a personal care assistant for young adults with disabilities, a teacher in our school-age latchkey program, etc. When we had kids, the thousands of books we read with them nourished that seed and helped it grow: I want to write books for kids.
So, of course, I joined SCBWI and set to work learning how to do that. In October of 1999, I went to a local SCBWI conference, where two editors from educational publishers spoke. Because I was conference volunteer, I got to be one editor’s helper and I got a manuscript critique with the other. I ended up writing books for both companies.
|BookSpeak! Poems About Books|
Even though that was by far NOT my first choice.
And thus began my history of writing children’s books. To date, I have written about 110 nonfiction books for the educational market, 12 poetry collections, and two rhyming nonfiction books. In fact, my newest book, Water Can Be..., comes out on April Fool's Day, and we're doing a giveaway of it here on TeachingAuthors.com! You can enter using the Rafflecopter widget at the end of the post. Enter through April 1, 2014, the pub date of Water Can Be...!
|Water Can Be... comes out on April 1!|
|At a school visit in 2013|
I also get to present to educators and librarians, which I love! I’m usually spreading poetry joy—in fact, in a couple of weeks, I’m going to present at the UNLV conference. I can’t wait. Presenting through IRA, ALA, and NCTE have been highlights for me.
And I get to connect to kids, too, through elementary author visits and young authors conferences. I have a blast getting kids excited about reading, writing, and poetry. And I don’t have to assess them or do any of the other ongoing tasks teachers have to keep up with.
|A Leaf Can Be... (Millbrook, 2012)|
My work as a teacher and an author are entwined in my mind. I can’t imagine one part of my career without the other. If I weren’t a writer, I obviously wouldn’t be invited to speak to teachers and writers and students. But if I didn’t do the teaching, I do think my writing would suffer. Getting out there and being in schools, with kids, helps me stay in touch with kids’ real lives today, especially now that my own two are officially adults—gulp.
And…that’s probably more than you ever wanted to know about my writing journey!
--Laura Purdie Salas
a Rafflecopter giveaway