|Lin Oliver and Stephen Mooser,
Co-Founders of SCBWI. I wonder
if they had any idea what they
would actually create!
My Dearest SCBWI,
I love you.
No, no. I really do.
I know. When we first met it was just infatuation. I mean, you were so interesting. So fashionable. So vibrant. You had so many wonderful life experiences behind you. You were a world of art and color, beautiful language, with a focus on making children happy readers; as a mom, teacher, and human, I adored all of these things.
|Kristin Russo and
Laurie Smith Murphy
I stepped through your doorway apprehensive. Unsure I belonged. Starry-eyed and naïve but ready to learn. You welcomed me with open arms. Back then, you may have only fed me boxed lunches, but you would end up feeding so much more than just my stomach.
Liz Goulet-Dubois and Moi
And the people you knew? I mean the kind of people that when you see them in living breathing form, you just can’t believe it. You introduced me to so many of them and I often got chills when you did. You invited me to your events and made me feel like a part of something special.
|Moi and Lucia Zimmitti|
I sat in your audience and listened to the likes of Richard Peck, Cynthia Lord, Katherine Paterson, Ellen Wittlinger, Nancy Hope Wilson, Laurie Halse Anderson, and Patricia Reilly Giff. Literary stars that have written the kinds of books that stick with readers—young and old. And you know what? All of these novelists are completely and utterly approachable and down-to-earth. I admire their talents so much, but their warmth, wisdom, generosity, and kindnesses are why the memories of our meetings have lingered. Why I have carried each of them with me on my journey.
|Gael Lynch, Ann Haywood Leal,
and Jame Richards
Without you, SCBWI, I would never have met them and spoken with each of them and had been moved by their messages. I would not have had that career-changing conversation with Laurie Halse Andersen about making time to write around our kids’ schedules. I would not smile now, thinking back on how Richard Peck quipped that we’d do signings together one day. I would not have had—back in the very beginning—Patricia Reilly Giff stare, not only into my eyes, but also right through my apprehension. “You should write that book,” she’d said. Those words reverberated as I walked away; perhaps it was easier to listen to her than myself. Can you imagine what it was like to have her do a blurb for my debut novel?
|Moi, Mary Pierce, Jeanne Zulick,
Kate Lynch, and Bette Anne Reith
I feel like I’m living within the Hallmark Channel sometimes, I swear. (Shouldn’t Richard Thomas be around here somewhere?) Oh, SCBWI. For this alone, I could love you forever. Chisel you a shrine. Name my next child after you. Tattoo a heart with your name cradled in its center on my arm. But then…
|Cynthia Levinson, Tamara Smith,
Anna Staniszewski, Moi,
Ammi Joan Paquette
You gave me even more. Some of the treasures of my life.
My friends and writing colleagues. People that I’ve met in the trenches. People that cared enough to tell me when my writing needed work and kicked me in the butt to get it done. I adore and respect and cherish them. People that make me laugh until my sides ache and bring me to tears with their poignancy. People with hearts as good…and as pure…as hearts can ever be.
|My amaaazing agent and awesome agent
mates at Erin Murphy
Truth is…SCBWI introduced me to myself. The self that I didn’t know I could be (cue 80’s Whitney Houston song here?). I’d found a home for the dreamer/creative side of me and was so grateful—even then. Wanting to give back, I stepped up to organize Whispering Pines, an annual SCBWI Writer’s Retreat in Rhode Island.
|Carlyn Beccia, Jenny Bagdigian,
At first, I was a bit shy, but forced myself to stick with it and learned that I could do it well. It boosted my confidence in speaking to groups and publishing professionals. (Many of you wouldn’t believe it, but I used to be shy.) That confidence—unbeknownst to me—spilled into my writing craft, as well. My husband and children have always made me so happy but, with SCBWI, I found the missing piece that I hadn’t known was missing. Honestly, the past five years have been some of the happiest of my life.
|Fantastic Fairfield Ladies!|
But, you weren’t quite finished with me, were you? By providing avenues for meetings with editors and agents, tons of information, critique group partners, encouragement, nuts-and-bolts writing instruction, and the message that hard work and persistence are key, you cleared the way for me to become a published author. Wow. I am so, so grateful for having reached this level and can’t wait to get out and talk with kids everywhere about writing. A dream come true.
And, yes. Getting published is just…Well, “amazing” is a thin word to describe it, I think. I have only held an ARC of ONE FOR THE MURPHYS in my hands thus far, but I can tell…this ride is going to be fun! Honestly, though, the contract is just the cherry on the sundae–albeit a Jupiter-sized cherry!
Because suppose I’d never been struck by publishing lightning? Suppose I’d just had all the blessings of these people of SCBWI and never gotten published? Suppose my writing career had never led me to the amaaazing people of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency? This answer I know—from the tips of my Sharpies down to the base of my office chair.
|Jeopardy! at Whispering Pines.
This is me being shy.
Without a contract, I still would have died complete. A blessed woman. However, if I were to reach the end of my time here not having known these fellow writers and artists that are now such an integral part of my life—knowing their hearts the way I do. Learning so, so much more than just writing from each of them. Well, if that were to be my fate, I would leave this earth feeling less. Being less…than I will now.
A lot less, actually.
With love and undying gratitude to SCBWI and its splendid members,
Lynda Mullaly Hunt
|From L to R: Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Padma Venkatraman, Linda
Crotta Brennan, Regional Advisor~Sally Riley, Betty Brown,
Cheryl Kirl Noll, Marlo Garnsworthy, Sarah Hemenway,
Julia Boyce, Mary Pierce, and Sue Fraser Perrotta
(Bottom center: Willow the Golden Lab!)