“Checking the Mail” by Abbie Roberts
Abbie Roberts was formerly editorial assistant for Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.
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Every day around lunchtime, I make the trek down to the mailroom to check the mail. I’m the editorial assistant in charge of reading through the “slush pile” of unsolicited submissions at Eerdmans Books for Young Readers. My mailbox is never empty. The mail that greets me daily trickles in from all over the country. All over the world. I take it back to my office and sift through it, decide what’s to be kept and passed along for another pair of eyes to see and what’s to be dropped into the plastic recycling bin beneath my desk. If I were to be completely honest, I’d say that that’s where a majority of it ends up. But then, there are those few, those very few, that catch my attention — sometimes mid toss. Those are the ones that draw me in, make me settle back into my chair. They’re the ones that make me stop and imagine and consider. I’d like to think that my eyes get a wistful, twinkly sort of look when those come along.
I’m proud to work for a company that seeks “to engage young minds with books — books that are honest, wise, and hopeful; books that delight us with their storyline, characters, or good humor; books that inform, inspire, and entertain.” I’m proud to have the opportunity to discover the stories we’re always hoping to find: “stories that celebrate diversity, stories of historical significance, and stories that relate to contemporary social issues.” I look for those stories every day. I wait for them earnestly, and hope that perhaps today will be the day that one of them finds me.
I’m under the general impression that words are important. They make things happen and conjure up ideas. They anger and hurt and encourage. They have the ability to create or to destroy. They teach and instruct. And good ones, truly good ones, change lives.
And so, every day around lunchtime, I trek down to the mailroom to check the mail. I take it back to my office and sift through it, hoping to find the next story that will make me settle back into my chair with that wistful look, before making its way to my boss’s desk. Maybe it will turn out to be “the one”: the one that will be paired with a talented and engaging illustrator, that will be formed into the pages of a book at a printer across the country or across the sea, that will find its way to the bookshelves of a library or a store or a home or a classroom, that will end up in the hands of young, eager children, and that will finally, sink deeply into the hearts of those children. Into who he is and who she will become. Into how they will live in this world.
I don’t go to work each day to save lives or hand out blankets and food to those in need. I don’t go to argue for important issues on Capitol Hill, or start non-profit organizations, or raise awareness about environmental issues, or stand up against injustice and inequality, or . . .
Perhaps I will someday. But for now, I think I’ll go check the mail.
Click to learn more about EBYR’s submissions policy and guidelines for authors and illustrators.