No, this isn’t a post about my last two kids, but that describes them too.
A little backstory before I start. I have roughly 4 hours a week to write uninterrupted. They are the two mornings when all my kids are in school. I guard these hours. I don’t use them to run errands (even though it would be much easier than taking kids). I don’t even go home on these mornings because it’d get caught in a sort of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” cleaning scenario. I’d get home and see a few dishes out and that would lead me to unloading the dishwasher and I’d find something that needs to be repaired, so I’d check Youtube and end up spending the whole time watching videos on stamping.
I tend to go to the library, Panera, or Barnes and Noble to write. I vary it to keep it fresh. A few weeks ago, I decided to go to Barnes and Noble. I went to the cafe, ordered tea, sat down, got out my computer and began to dig in, just as a school bus dropped off about 40-50 middle school students. My first thought was, “Really? Of all days.” I thought about packing up, but my time would be almost finished once I got to a new location.
So, I turned up the music in my head phones and focused harder on my screen. Soon, the kids weren’t just milling around, the first group was coming into the cafe for their “snack”. It must have been part of the field trip deal. I felt bad about taking up a table, but did offer my extra chairs and then I attempted to focus again.
My nosiness got the best of me when two chaperones started talking about Kid’s Baking Championship. We are avid fans and I didn’t want to know who won since we hadn’t seen the finale yet. I jokingly started plugging my ears and humming (which didn’t make a whole lot of sense since I had headphones on). I finally gave up and engaged with the chaperones. The kids were very well-behaved and thrilled to be at a big bookstore like Barnes and Noble. I asked the adults where they were from and sure enough it was a rural school who chose to do a field trip instead of a book fair this year.
That’s when I realized what a happy accident it was. Here I was trying to shut everything out and focus on my middle grade novel when I was surrounded by 50 excited middle grade readers.
And they were virtual strangers, so they didn’t have any reason to impress me. What followed was an honest discussion with many of the kids about what they love to read, what kind of books they don’t usually finish, and what books they’d never pick up. Their answers varied, but what I learned was just because they were in middle school, they hadn’t lost their love for historical fiction. Many of the kids talked about the various historical series they love. When I shared the premise of my book with them, they seemed genuinely interested. The two chaperones assured me they’d want to buy that book for their kids if it was published.
The point of this post isn’t to persuade anyone to publish my book, but if you’re an editor or agent, I’d love to talk to you. The point is something much greater. Sometimes God sets things up for us that at first appear to be an accident or even a nuisance. But maybe, just maybe, he set’s things up for a specific purpose. I didn't need to write 5 more pages that day. It would have been nice, but what I really needed that day was some encouragement and it showed up in the form of some rural middle schoolers on a bus.
Be on the lookout for these happy accidents. I have a feeling they happen more than we know.