“Dear Avi …
… now [I am] a freshman in college and seek wisdom. Any advice for an aspiring children’s novelist? My family had convinced me it was a bad idea to take creative writing classes. So I defaulted on my plan B: business (which is drastically more miserable than I had imagined.) Any words of any reply would be, beside miraculous, awe-inducing appreciated.”
I wrote back:
“Thanks for your letter. I am delighted you have read and enjoyed so many of my books. Pleased too, that you would like to become a children’s novelist. There is always room for more good writers.
“Whatever you choose to do, I hope you will follow your heart’s passion because the writing profession is a hard one, and requires a great deal of work. Rewards are somewhat iffy. Nevertheless, I am a writer who was not—by my family—encouraged to be a writer. It took many years of work to support my own family and myself by writing. That said there are those who have achieved high levels of success very much sooner than I did.
“To become a writer requires first that you become a voluminous reader … and stay a reader. Write every day. Write what you enjoy reading. Rewrite constantly. Be with other writers. Exchange work and ideas. Since you are in college, there may well be a writing group or society. Be part of it. Perhaps there is a literary journal. Work for it. Submit your work to it. Just know that there is a lot of criticism that comes to writers. Painful, sometimes, but try to learn from it. In addition, yes, there is a business side to writing that is good to know.
“I wish you much good and hard work—and a little good luck. Good luck never hurts.