This is a true story.
I don't think Sara knows it, though.
So I'm working on a novel, and my crit partner said that I needed to read this book, Once Was Lost, by Sara Zarr. At the time I didn't know anything about Sara Zarr. But my crit partner is really smart and gifted, so I usually take her advice. So I bought the book.
And I read it in one sitting, in one night, and a school night to boot.
And I thought about it, and kept thinking about it, because it isn't just what Sara writes its something about her How. How she writes. And I couldn't put words to the How, but I knew I liked it a lot.
And when I read this book I was in Hard Times. You know. We've all been there.
And then I signed up for a Children's Writing Conference. I admit, I wasn't really sure if I belonged there. I was nervous and full of self-doubt and glad I was Doing Something With My Writing.
Being new to the conference scene, I didn't check out the faculty. I just showed up. And I get my schedule of crit groups. And I also get a fifteen minute session with a faculty member to go over my query.
And my eyes just about fell out of my head. Because my query time is with Sara Zarr.
I don't know anyone at the conference. My heart is pounding. I run outside and call my husband, and I say, "I'm going to meet Sara Zarr." And my husband, who is an architect who reads architect-y stuff, says, "Who?" And so I tell him--remember when I stayed up and read that book? And he kind of does. But he does get that I am thrilled and excited. And nervous.
So I do my crit groups, which were great, and I stay up really late revising, and periodically the thought "I'm going to meet Sara Zarr" pops into my head and I just know I blanked out and stared at stuff for a minute or two each time.
So as my time nears I have a folder with my query letter, and I'm pacing, and my stomach is all kerfuffled.
And then it's time and I Meet Sara Zarr.
I almost cried.
And we talked about my book and her books and she was this real, amazing human being and when I left the meeting my head was spinning.
I called my dad. "I met Sara Zarr."
I called my mom. "I met Sara Zarr."
At this point, if you are still reading, you might be thinking I'm a little crazy.
I don't think I'm crazy. I think I'm grateful.
Because Meeting Sara Zarr meant a lot to me. Here is this writer whose books are like Vermeer paintings. Quiet, intense, full of light and jewel tones and real life. And I don't cry a lot, but Story of a Girl had me crying because of the story and the joy of reading the story.
And I periodically look at my husband and say, "I met Sara Zarr." Full of wonder, still.
So yeah, Meeting Sara Zarr changed my life because when I get bogged down I remember her and Vermeer and my spirit feels renewed.
And Sara's new book, How to Save a Life, is coming out October 18. And somehow that title seems apropos to me, because sometimes changing a life means saving it.