Deep dark confession: I am a seventeen year old hopeless romantic (trapped in the body of a…um…let’s say over twenty nine year old). YA (Young Adult) is the only thing I’ve ever had any interest in writing. Hats off to all you picture book/MG’ers out there. I can’t write anything that doesn’t contain at least one (preferably more) turn your spine to pudding (preferably chocolate), kiss.
SCBWI has a very active chapter in New Jersey. So, I signed up for their summer conference, eagerly signed up for a group and author critique. Anyone ever done a group critique with a bunch of strangers? I hadn’t. So as the overly excited ‘pee on the carpet’ puppy, I reached out to our critique group first, anxious to start reading other people’s manuscripts. The first one to respond was Suzy.
Suzy was so cool (well, she still is but I tend to write in past tense). She had a great husband, and a great house, and three great kids, and we were both potty training, and we both loved to email, and write, and cook (Suzy is much more skilled at cooking large pieces of meat for a crowd) and we started emailing these super long emails to each other. They even changed my sleep cycle. Suzy loves to write late at night. So I would go to sleep and wake up at 2 a.m. just to read her email. I had a total hetero girl crush. We were so much alike it was crazy!
And so Suzy said, “Why don’t you check out my website?” And I skipped on over, singing a happy little tune to check out what my new friend looked like. And my mouth fell open (I mean spittle on the keyboards and all). My dear friend Suzy who was so much like me was very clearly <insert drumroll>…a Muslim. I swear I heard crickets chirping in the background.
When I started writing again, desperate to remember who I was before I became a mommy, I prayed. I prayed for someone, a friend, a confidante, a fellow writer, someone I called talk shop with about writing (my whole life, writing was something I did very privately; my own brother didn’t know I wrote), someone who would understand the drive to create a story and have it read by someone else. Such was my prayer. Never, ever let it be said God doesn’t have a sense of humor. Because God did in fact answer my Christian prayer—he sent me a Muslim.