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The Reward

I have been doing the thing I love now for more than 25 years. It was no easy road to tow and truthfully, it's still not. I have done more than 85 books. 80 of which were illustrated for other wonderful authors and then five illustrated and written by me.

A lot of us illustrators and writers want our books to do well and possibly end up on the New York Times Best Sellers list, or have Kirkus gives it a starred review and even better, for it to win some big award.

For a long time I was actually upset because I seem to be passed over and over again for awards. It left me feeling like the books that I did weren't good or that something was wrong with me. Every year I look to see one of my colleagues get a awesome award and I LOVE and I do mean LOVE to celebrate each of them. They did the hard work and it paid off with an award. Being honest though, my heart hurt that I didn't get one. What is wrong with my work that I haven't gotten one yet?!?!

Then in a still quiet moment I begin to realize that while awards are wonderful and beautiful and nice, I had already been getting awards. The greatest of these from the children that I visit from month to month. They don't care that I have awards or not. I connect with them through my storytelling and song. Sometimes it's very emotional. I feel them in my heart and soul. They come running to me to get hugs after it's all over and that is the reward. That is the payment. That is why I do it. Not for awards, but for the little ones that I connect with. It is it's own reward when a child that I have visited runs home and tells their parent about who they met today in school. That is most important.

Sometimes we are looking for someone to give us a thank you or some kind of reward when we are doing something life giving and changing. What if they don't? Will you still keep doing good when nobody is watching or cares? Sometimes it' no book deal, or contract, or a bad review. Remember why and who you do it for. Keep your heads up!

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