Before I try to tie Young Adult fiction and Labor Day together in a meaningful post, I’d like to brag about my own labors.
For the past three years, I have been the Critique Group Coordinator for SCBWI Midsouth. The job was occasionally frustrating, but wildly rewarding, if for no other reason than I sounded vaguely credible when I asked to join one of the groups I was supposed to track down and document. That group took me in, and I now share manuscripts with some seriously talented people. Volunteering as coordinator also got me nominated for this year’s SCBWI Tribute Scholarship, which I somehow won, entitling me to a trip to the August 2013 SCBWI conference in Los Angeles. I take no credit for the award, and can only say “Thank you.” Well, that and, “Check it out, I got my picture taken with a spitting dinosaur.” (Yeah, I know, a dimetrodon wasn't a dinosaur, but the metaphor I'm about to make doesn't sound right with "non-mammalian synapsid." )
With my return from LA, I am stepping out of the role of crit group organizer and into a new role as Midsouth Co-ARA. In that job, I will be responsible for the all-new Midsouth website. I’ve got to learn something new, which is why that drooling dinosaur picture is so appropriate. Of course, I’ll still be writing too, which brings me to today's thought about Labor Day.
With a nod to the amazing Bruce Coville, who has said many wise things about the place of children in this world, I note that for most of our history children were a source of cheap, disposable labor. Teenagers had already worked for years on farms and in crowded factories, putting in long, dangerous days and nights. Those kids didn’t have time for school, to learn to read, to sit down with a book. Or to put it another way, my target audience didn’t exist. Until recently, I wouldn’t have been able to do what I do. One of the reasons for that change is the Labor movement. So as I pause for the holiday, I will be saying, “Thanks,” not just to the folks who made my LA trip possible, but to the folks who made my audience possible. And then I’ll get back to work.