May 10, 2009


Lin Oliver has rubbed shoulders with some of the best-known writers of teen and children literature. Living on the West Coast, she and Steve Mooser initially planned and executed the first Society of Children’s Book Writers (and Illustrators who weren’t added until later) Conference 38 years ago.

Newbery Award winners like Richard Peck and Linda Sue Park; Caldecott medalists Eve Bunting and David Wiesner; New York Times bestsellers like Melinda Long and Kadir Nelson and senior agents and editors of the best-known agencies and publishers regularly appear alongside her name. She hobnobs and writes with well-known actors and directors like the creator of HAPPY DAYS’s legendary character The Fonz, Henry Winkler.

Some of these people are undeniably weird.

And she’s friends with them.

Lin Oliver has obviously followed her weirdness to great success. How can I do that? Did she follow her weirdness IN ORDER TO be famous, or was she famous BECAUSE she was truthful and followed her weirdness?

Having met her and heard her speak, I would venture to guess that it is the latter. She was simply being who she was…er…weird.

In order to tie myself into this, I should point out that I am a science teacher. Have been for 27 years. When people find out I’m a writer and a teacher, they automatically assume I’m an English teacher. The fact is that I am not even technically qualified to teach a semester-long class of Creative Writing in my school district because I don’t have an English degree. So, that’s weird, isn’t it?

I’m also a Christian and I try to work my world-view into my science fiction stories and novels. Definitely weird – and it may cost me sales. So I should stop that, shouldn’t I? Oh, I’m funny, too. Most people don’t feel that Christian and funny go together, either (they have images of the crazy monks in the old movie, MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL, hitting their heads on boards while chanting).

While I don’t shake hands with medal winners or bestsellers or movie stars yet, I continue to write and get published. I continue to follow my weirdness, because my weirdness is, after all is said and done, what makes me unique. The rest is all a matter of persistence and time.

The other part of following my weirdness is that I continue to submit stories even though 90 percent of them are returned to me – and I’ve been doing this for nearly four decades. If I don’t miss my mark, Lin Oliver has done the same thing.

And if that ain’t following my weirdness, I don’t know what is!

1 comment:

Paul said...

My weirdness is a guy named Murray. I try to follow him, but he keeps giving me the slip. I'll find him sooner or later, though, and when I do I'm going to tag him with an RFID chip.