The SCBWI convention is coming up! In a little more than a week I’ll be on my way to Los Angeles to what could arguably be one of the biggest opportunities of my career.

But then with the exception of Susan Boyle, I don’t actually think you have only one chance to impress.

And in fact, in my case, there is so much suspicion around me just because of what I am (a Muslim) and how I dress (like a Muslim) that I need a heck of a lot more than one chance to prove to people that yup, I’m for real.

It makes me laugh when I think back to how I was wound up so tight when I first started writing. When Bedtime Ba-a–alk came up I was already imagining merchandising! LOL

Omigosh, I was so naive.

And when my career didn’t take off, when the phone didn’t start ringing off the hook with queries from people who’d ‘noticed’ me, I felt impatient, like c’mon greatness, I’m here. What are you waiting for?


Oh geez. I probably shouldn’t be writing this. It’s going to make me sound like the biggest conceit!

And yet, I wonder if this isn’t what most authors go through when they get published.

I mean it must take a certain baseline conceitedness to even dare to put your work out there in the public in the first place!

Most of us are no Emily Dickinsons! Not by a long shot.

And I’m definitely in that category where I hungered for the fame and fortune.

And so, when I first started out I was loud and boisterous, and it makes me cringe to think back on it, and yet people seemed to also find my unbridled enthusiasm kind of charming, I think.

Or maybe I’m just putting a nostalgic spin on it.

At least they weren’t totally put off. And over the years my reputation grew to the point where now, the phone might not be ringing off the hook, but I’m definitely more busy than I want to be at times.

And during the thirteen years that I’ve been developing and growing my craft, I’ve actually gotten quieter. 

The more conferences and festivals and conventions I go too, in some ways, the quieter I become.

EXCEPT on stage! There I really CRANK IT UP!

Maybe it’s like an athlete who conserves his energy for the big game.

Who doesn’t have to prove he can field the ball or swing the bat by doing hot-dogging tricks in the parking lot.

Who steps up to the plate with a quiet sort of confidence, because he knows–and more importantly the pitcher knows– that by the Grace of God, he will hit it out of the park.

And now when I think back to all those days where I waited for things to happen, when I’d stare out the window and dream about a life of jet-setting and book-signing and admiration, but have to settle for doing mundane household chores, I think to myself, “What a lot of time I had back then!” And “Wouldn’t it be nice to go back to that, just for a week or so?”

Because honestly, having two trips during the summer, when I’m usually recharging my batteries is a bit on the overwhelming side.

A while ago I was contacted by this group that produces a resource called Something About the Author. Basically it’s a volume that professionals like librarians and such, check out when they’re looking up authors.

They’ve sent me my entry to look over for accuracy and I’ve been corresponding with my new editor for my new picture book along with all the other myriad things an author has to do and it occurred to me that my dreams really have come true.

I’m living the ‘jet-setting’ lifestyle. My work is indeed being noticed! All those years were not for nought.

But all these trappings of lifestyle are not what matters.

I could skip that whole SCBWI–L.A. thing and just stay home and write, and that might actually do my career more good.

Because ultimately, it’s about the story!

It’s not about the fancy schmancy la dee da parties, it’s about what your imagination can come up with.

How deep can you go?

How fantastic can you get?

Can you impress YOURSELF?

Because I’m the hardest critic of my own work that I’ll probably ever come across.

It’s taken thirteen years of seasoning for me to realize that.