If only, when I wrote my first picture book and received wonderful letters, although not offers of publication, from editors, I was wise enough to either keep sending it out, rather than stopping after four "nos", or to show those letters to an agent who may have been willing to help me, perhaps my professional career would have started sooner and been all that I had imagined it to be.
If only, when I wrote my first novel for children at the age of 23, I had been lucky enough to have had it published, or if only someone had been so amazed at my accomplishment at such a young age, perhaps I would have been on my way then to acclaim in the industry I've cared about so much.
If only, when I was young, I had followed my heart and moved to New York City, as I had always wanted to do, the center of publishing for children at that time, perhaps I would have the career I wanted. If only I hadn't been so worried about my parents' stability if I left, and my own well being if I moved to a city where I knew no one and had no prospects for a job or housing.
If only, when I joined the SCBWI in the 1970s, I had been smart enough to attend a conference then, perhaps I would have met people who could have helped me in my career and taught me what I needed to know to succeed.
If only I had always made the wisest choice and done everything right then I would be my Perfect Me. I would like to be my Perfect Me, but I didn't do everything right and I am not my Perfect Me, I am only...me.
I reached for the stars and landed on the roof. But the roof isn't such a bad place to be. From here I have a marvelous view of our yard, which looks particularly beautiful just now, as the roses are about to bloom. I'm a bit closer to the birds, and I love to watch them fly. I can wave to my neighbor and watch my dear husband come home. And being here makes me remember songs which I'll sing to my little granddaughter when I see her next week.
How I wish I had been gutsy, glamorous, gregarious! I should have had more confidence, courage and charisma. It would have helped to be more self-centered, focused and even ruthless.Maybe then all of those unpublished manuscripts hidden in a box in my closet would have been published books. Yet I still wrote those books, labored over them, dreamed about them, searched for the perfect words, revised and completed them. I am proud of my work, especially that novel I wrote when I was only 23. Although I never considered that I would have to work so many years at the public library, I have read thousands of books and affected many many children in a positive way, and I am grateful for that.
So the roof isn't such a terrible place to be. I have a lovely view. And to those of you who have reached the stars, I will bask in your glow.