Michael Gerard Bauer, I’m looking at you.
On my (rather excessively long) journey to publication, I’ve had some fairy god-people types appear every now and then. The most obvious of which was Monica McInerney. But there have been others, and one of them was Young Adult fiction writer, Michael Gerard Bauer, an author of fantastically entertaining, witty, funny and sensitive stories for young people. And one year, I met Michael. It was at the CYA Conference in Brisbane. It was afternoon tea time and (with no disrespect intended) I had been wondering all day long why I was there. I’d been to CYA before, and thought it was great. But I think, this particular year I simply had a deep knowing that I was on the wrong path. (And as it turns out, I was. I wasn’t a YA author after all but a women’s fiction author.)
At any rate, I found myself standing with a cup of tea next to MGB and decided to say hi and tell him how much I loved his books. Our conversation lasted a handful of minutes but Michael was so very lovely and asked me a lot of questions about myself and my writing. Along the way, I confessed that I was feeling very disheartened and frustrated, like I was always getting oh-so-heartbreakingly-close to publication but falling at the last minute. The conversation moved on, with Michael telling me how amazing it is to have a publisher say they want to publish your book, and how much he still felt that thrill, even after many books on the shelf.
And then he looked at me, straight in the eye, and from no where said, “And you are going to feel that too, very soon.”
Chills went down my spine. THIS was why I was at that conference. So MGB could touch me with his fairy wand.
(I’ll give you a moment to process that image.)
I don’t know why Michael said it; we’ve not spoken since so I don’t know if he knows (or even remembers that conversation). But I drove home not long after that, feeling elated–like I’d been blessed by a very hairy fairy-god-man. It felt (and there’s no other way to say this) transformative. Like, because he’d said it then it must be true.
And a little less than two years later, I’d been signed by my agent and The Tea Chest sold shortly after.
And because I’m one of those odd people that put things on posters and tape them to the walls, I had printed out those words as soon as I got home from the conference. I didn’t ever want to forget them.
(And I’m sure that Michael is right now checking his doors are locked as there is a crazy stalker person out there who keeps photos of him on their board in their office. It’s okay, Michael, truly. No photos, I promise.)
They sat taped to the bathroom window for a long time, then came off one day when I was cleaning the glass and I stashed the paper under the sink. I forgot about it until we moved house in September 2013, found it, packed it, then found it again in our new place, just last week. (Let’s just overlook what this says about my housekeeping skills.)
I have now let that tatty, slightly mildewed piece of paper go, but I first wanted to photograph it and post it here to let all aspiring writers know to look for signs (okay, tea drinking, bearded men with glasses) that randomly come your way to let you know you’re on the right path. They’re out there. Oh yes they are.
(So too are the crazy people who will write down your words and tape them to the door….)