Well, here’s something I wasn’t prepared for…

Before the Austin SCBWI meeting on Saturday, 21-month-old F served as a model for illustrators who wanted to practice sketching real live kids on the fly. I sat with him on the little stage in the children’s section of Barnes & Noble, and all was well. F and I shared a pastry and a bottle of water while he noodled around and got sketched.

I knew one or two of the illustrators but not the other handful, so while they sketched they asked about me and my writing and I told them about The Day-Glo Brothers.

A couple of minutes later we were joined by the 11-year-old son of one of the illustrators. He had been getting sketched when F and I arrived, and he was holding one of the sketches, which had been signed by the illustrator.

He asked me to sign it, too. I believe his words were, “Can I please have your autograph?” Then he announced his intention to become a writer, and asked me for my advice.

I had told my brain it didn’t have to think about this sort of thing for another couple of years, if then, but it somehow recovered, told my hand to sign my name on the sketch, and made my mouth make some encouraging words about writing. Meanwhile, I had to intervene to keep F from toppling a display for Gloria Estefan’s book and pushing over a stack of wooden Monopoly boxes.

I was flustered. Honored and tickled, but surprised by the encounter. I just hope the kid came away feeling good about his writing aspirations. If nothing else, I must have made getting published seem somewhat more attainable: “If this distracted, inarticulate man can get published, I can, too!”