I have just had four of the busiest weeks of my life. In those four weeks I visited schools and libraries in Perth and around the South West, as well as flying to Gunnedah in New South Wales, and presented over 50 sessions talking about myself and my books. By the end of it I have to admit I was pretty tired. Very tired. Achingly tired. So tired that when I ran into a local friend last week she commented on how tired I look and told me I should just take a day off. I smiled, said I would do so, then the next day got in my car and drove to Mundaring for another session (you can see a photo from that session below).
This week I have a week free of speaking commitments, and I have time to get some writing done – as well as more mundane things like housework, paying bills and so on. And I also have time to reflect on the past four weeks. Sure, they were really busy and more than once I wondered if I could really meet all my commitments. But meet them I did, and I had an absolute ball.
But, in honour of the friend who suggested I needed a day off, and anyone else who is wondering, I thought I might explain WHY I do school and library visits.
1. 1. It’s fun and inspirational. Standing in front of a room of kids and talking about myself and my books is so unlike work that I sometimes forget it IS work. For 45 minutes I talk, read, smile and, importantly listen, as I share with kids my stories, and my life as a writer. It’s an absolute blast.
2. 2. It promotes my books. Getting published is hard, but getting the word out about your books can be even harder.
3. 3. It pays well. Very few children’s authors can make a living from writing. Speaking engagements pay well and allow us to continue writing.
4. 4. It engages me with people. Writing can be a pretty solitary occupation, with most of my work taking place at home on my own. When I go out to schools and libraries I am socialising, meeting people and connecting with them.
5. 5. It helps kids. I have left this one to last because it is the most important. Meeting a ‘real’ author can be really engaging for readers of all abilities. Often a reluctant reader will be inspired to read, and an avid reader will feel validated. Kids are also inspired to write after listening to an author.
There are other reasons, but these are the key ones, and, whilst the busyness of four weeks of author visits is tiring, it also leaves me feeling energised, ready to write more and speak more, too. I look forward to speaking more, and am delighted that the bookings for next year have started to come in. If you’d like to book me to visit your school or library, you can contact me through my website.