I’ve been feeling a bit wistful lately. My three children, who provided much of my inspiration and connection to the story lines and characters in my first two middle grade novels, have gotten older. Funny how that sneaks up on you. Two have graduated college. One has a job. The other is looking and hopefully, will find. And my youngest — always the last for everything, she’s quick to complain — is off to college this fall. Our house, once full of interrupted conversations, endless shoes at the front door and disappearing food, is quieter. Neater. Slower-moving, somehow.
I admit that I worried about reaching this moment — not only as a parent, but also as a middle grade author. Would I still be able to write realistic dialogue or imagine scenes or even, come up with ideas if I wasn’t around middle graders? How could I write about them if I wasn’t a part of their world, laughing at their silly jokes and knowing the trends and listening to their chatter?
While it’s true that I no longer have middle graders around me on a daily basis, I’ve come to realize that I have something I didn’t have before, when I was unpublished and working on those novels — countless heartfelt emails and letters from readers. Although I dreamed of being an author when I grew up, I never summoned the courage to write to one when I was younger. I did, however, write to David Cassidy. Sadly, he never answered.
Letters, notes, and emails from readers are a gift. Not only do they keep me connected to kids’ thoughts and dreams, they make me reflect, crack up, and sometimes, tear-up. But more importantly, they remind me why I write. Why I do this. Why it matters.
So thank you for writing. We authors appreciate it more than you know. Here are some of my favorites.
Michele Weber Hurwitz is the author of The Summer I Saved the World in 65 Days, and Calli Be Gold (Wendy Lamb Books), and the forthcoming Makers Vs. Fakers (Aladdin 2017). Find her at micheleweberhurwitz.com.