This past Saturday I was invited to the inaugural Creative Careers Expo hosted by District 155 in Crystal Lake, IL. There were about twenty-five tables featuring careers in fashion, make-up, photography, architecture, visual arts, music, dance, writing, and probably others I didn’t get a good look at. I sat behind a table and talked to dozens of middle school and high school students, answering their questions about writing, publishing, or in the case of a sixth grade boy, admiring the folder of work he had brought along to share with me. He was SO PROUD of his accomplishments. I hope he never loses that confidence and enthusiasm.
We’ve all heard of job fairs and career fairs. What was unique about this one, was that it allowed students to see firsthand that YES you can have a career in one of these fields. In my younger years, I didn’t think writing was something I could do because it seemed like something people in another world did. Yes, an author wrote the books I loved but it was hard to fully comprehend there was a person behind those words. I might have met my first author in grad school at Roosevelt. Every professor had published a novel, an article, a short story. But that still seemed something I couldn’t be a part of. They taught COLLEGE and published short stories in literary magazines I had never heard of, and honestly, didn’t really feel like getting to know. My pal, Lori Rader-Day, a classmate of mine in grad school who is about to publish her sixth novel, might have been the first “real” author I met. I had to wait until I was about thirty for that to happen.
I might not be the most successful or famous author, but I am a real one. I’m glad I’m the reason those students didn’t have to wait until they were thirty to meet one.