Came across an interesting Ted Talk. I ended up reading the transcript instead of watching it. I find I often get more from reading something than listening to it.

It was actually about marketability and it said what a lot of people are saying these days, that in order to get noticed in this day and age you need to be ‘remarkable’.

That doesn’t necessarily mean ‘excellent’. Remarkable literally means ‘to be remarked about’. So that means you need to be enough of a freak, or aberration that people will actually remark about you to others.

You become a topic of discussion. Oh, did you see ‘so and so’…

I think it’s kind of sad.

And I think it’s a symptom of the times in which we live.

Call me old-fashioned but that’s not my style.

I actually think there’s another way you can make yourself seen, and that’s by consistently giving good value.

Sadly, that is remarkable in this day and age.

My tactic in my career has been to exploit every opportunity that comes my way to its fullest.

For example, when I was invited in 2006 to the American Library Association’s convention in New Orleans, I prepared the best I could. I had about twenty minutes to talk about Muslims in Children’s Literature and one of the points I made was that as a kid, I never read a book to learn anything.

I read it to hear a good story!

And that resonated with some of the people in the audience.

I remember Deborah Ellis was on the panel and she came up to me afterwards and told me how much she’d enjoyed my speech. And then years later (just last year in fact) she recommended me to an educational publisher who was doing a series of booklets on mental wellness and I wrote a piece on racism for them. My booklet is for grades seven and eight and is called Not Guilty and should be published very soon now.

What happens is when you really shine during an opportunity, people will remember that. And they will pass on the word and it will lead to other opportunities.

That’s been the way of things with me.

I started this business the hard way. Pulled straight out of the slush pile by a small Canadian publisher.

I’d read somewhere that if you keep writing your best,  you’ll eventually write  your way up to higher markets, and that’s precisely what I’ve done.

And that ALA opportunity eventually led to the IBBY Congress in Denmark opportunity where I gave my Freedom of Speech vs Cultural Sensitivity speech 

Ironically that speech would be perfectly apropos for the Charlie Hebdo situation as it dealt with the Danish cartoon incident.

And that speech led directly to the NCTE conference presentation I just did last November where the vice-president of the NCTE herself, told me how much she’d enjoyed what I’d said.

These things take time.

It’s not good to be too impatient. Remember the old adage, good things come to those who wait.

And I have a lot of faith that when the time is right, my star will really shine. But all this is preparation time. It’s good to develop in the ‘dark’.

Right now I’m fighting a cold. Oh it’s been bad, but alhamdu lillah there’s finally some relief in sight.

And I must be remarkable enough that I keep getting bookings. So there.

But I do agree, being safe is the worst mistake you can make.