I left home for college in the fall of 1986, and I was not ready. I was emotionally immature and psychologically damaged; I’d spent far too much of my high school tenure in self-hating isolation; and my lack of success in both the academic and social fields felt absolute. Predictably, I experienced a wretched first year that resulted in academic suspension.
I’m gonna write while the rest of the family is at a second grade birthday party. Now, there are definitely some pluses to skipping the second grade birthday party, primarily the fact that hanging around and making chitchat with other parents for 2+ hours is a pretty good match for my personal description of hell, being the deeply introverted, socially maladjusted individual I am. But I’m also missing out on things like the jubilant expression on the 2.42 year old’s face as he pings around inside a bouncy house, or the deep satisfaction on the 7.67 year old’s face as she scores her first slice of cake. I’m doing it anyway, because I want this career, and I intend to have it. But the sacrifice is real, and it’s not easy; it’s never easy.
I’m pretty sure it was sometime around this day in 2010 when Arthur A. Levine sent me a Facebook friend request. It’s probably easy to imagine working with Arthur as a very “yes Arthur, whatever you say, Arthur” kind of scenario if you don’t actually know him as a person – his gargantuan editorial achievements and place in publishing history are impossible to dispute, after all, and viewing him solely through the lens of those things undoubtedly results in a highly distorted, non-reality-based image. It’s easier to be intimidated or awestruck by an archetypical construct of a Legendary New York Editor than by the editor as a real person, you know what I mean?
Lucky for me I actually got to know Arthur as the genuine, wonderful human being he is first. I much prefer to see him through the lens of his humanity – it’s a more accurate way to perceive anyone, and personally I prefer working with a real, live human being to working with a fantasy person built from assorted shards of reputation, fandom, and media coverage. It’s true that I have no basis for comparison – I’ve only published one book, and while I’ve worked with other editors on short pieces, novels are a whole different can of hungry caterpillars. But it’s hard to imagine working with an editor who I trust more than I trust Arthur.