On my son’s 21st birthday, he celebrated by taking his first parachute jump. I can assure you this was not the way I wanted him to celebrate his birthday, and I was a nervous wreck and mad as all get out. When I graduated from high school, I celebrated with a trip to the Boston and New York area with two friends. The exciting part of the trip was that we didn’t have a clue where we were staying (of course, our parents didn’t know that), and spent one night in a men’s dorm at Yale and one night crashed on the floor of some young musician’s home that we had met on the street.

Recently a friend and I were talking about “taking risks” and how your perspectives change as you get older. We were riding home from a meeting and as I watched my gas gauge dip below an eighth of a tank, we laughed about the fact that risk at our age means driving until your “low gas” light comes on.

Writing has a lot to do with taking risks and anyone who has been published knows that. While getting a contract can be exciting, there is still that fear that showing that very personal part of you can mean getting panned. Bruce Coville once likened it to passing around your baby’s picture and having someone tell you quite frankly that you produced one ugly kid!

But, if you’re going to write or illustrate, and it doesn’t seem to matter if you’re new or more seasoned in the profession, you better learn to roll with the punches, grow an extra layer of skin, and believe in yourself, or you might as well take up a new profession. Skydiving, anyone?