Rock Stars are People, Too

So there I was at the National Book Awards this week…..  Since we won that awesome Innovations in Reading Prize, the kind folks at the Ford Foundation thought a rep from YARN should get to come to the National Book Awards Week festivities as part of the prize, but also for the kind of excellent opportunity for networking that doesn’t come along every day.  Or month.  Or year.  Or ever, really.

They hosted a beautiful lunch for all four of this year’s  Innovations recipients (more on that below), plus I got a ticket to the other major events: 5 Under 35 in Brooklyn on Monday, the official Readings of the Finalists on Tuesday, and the gala Awards Dinner on Wednesday (surely you saw my live FB posts and Tweets!!)

When I arrived in New York City, after a looooooonnnngg drive from Weston,  I immediately started to feel tense.  All the days and weeks of excited wardrobe planning and business-card making went away and all I was left with was the sense that I did not belong there.

I mean, the NBAs are full of the rock stars of publishing–major and up-and-coming editors, agents, and writers.  Who was I?  A stay and home mom with the little  literary journal that could?

Yes, that was exactly what I was.   I should just go home, I thought.

This line of thinking escalated as the moment for me to speak in front of 70 people at the Innovations lunch neared.  As I listened to those 5 writers under the age of 35 read form their beautifully crafted books, I felt this way;  as I screwed up the courage to introduce myself to one of my own literary heroes, Julia Glass, only to discover that she is totally down to earth and nice, I felt this way;  as I chatted with the incredibly friendly people on the staff of the National Book Foundation, I felt this way; even as I handed my business card to the very first YA writer ever to be one of the 5 Under 35, John Corey Whaley, who had actually heard of YARN, I felt this way…..

But as I sat there waiting for my turn (and I was last, I might add) to tell that crowd at the lunch about YARN, I realized something:  YARN was one of them.

Image courtesy of Rebekah Zachritz (

Holy shit, YARN was one of them.

People wanted to hear about YARN just like I wanted to meet John Corey Whaley or Julia Glass.

I’m not going to lie and say this made me less nervous about speaking, because let’s face it: public speaking is a nerves thing unto itself.  But the realization did help me relax for the rest of the week.

Another takeaway:  Everyone I met there, including the winners, turned out to be people.  The winner for poetry, Nikky Finney, taught with a friend of mine from college.  Stephen Greenblatt, the winner for non-fiction, was a professor a Berkeley when I was there.  These are….people. People who work hard on their craft and love what they do.

Do you work hard on your craft and love what you do?


Then guess what you are?


Kerri Majors, EditorNot everyone gets NBA-level acknowledgment for their work.  But we’re all in this literature thing together.  We are all, ultimately, just people working on reading and writing together.  Every single one of the major rock stars this week mentioned this in one way shape or form.   So own it.   Work hard and rock it.

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What Is YARN?

It's a brilliant thing to have a place where you can read fresh original short stories by both seasoned YA authors and aspiring teens. YARN is a great tool box for growing up writing. - Cecil Castellucci

Imagine. Envision. Write. Revise. Submit. Read.

YARN is an award-winning literary journal that publishes outstanding original short fiction, poetry, and essays for Young Adult readers, written by the writers you know and love, as well as fresh new voices...including teens.

We also believe in feedback, which is why we encourage readers to post comments on pieces that inspire thought, emotion, laughter...or whatever.

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