Those words are from Paddy Moloney, founder and leader of the Irish musical group The Chieftains. If that's the case, then I guess my service is to share my stories and somehow touch people through them.
Some people find their service early on. Others take longer. For me, it was years, and I didn't find it on my own. I had a lot of help along the way, and much of that help came from public libraries.
In 1975, I married and moved away from Lockport. In the ten years that followed, there were six moves. Within days upon arrival in each new place, I found the public library and got a card. In 1980, we landed in Clinton, NY. We had a daughter by then and, following the example my mother had set for me, I began taking her to the library when she was just a few months old. Even though it had been years since I'd abandoned children's books for adults', I quickly rediscovered and fell in love with them all over again.
The more children's books I read, the more strongly i began to feel that I'd like to give writing them a try, and I began a correspondence course in writing for young people. Before i finished it, we moved to Ponca City, OK, where my daughter and I quickly became regular customers at the library. The children's librarian became a friend; we had wonderful conversations about children's books, ones we remembered from our childhood and more recent ones. I finished the correspondence course in Ponca, knowing I'd found my calling, but not knowing where to go from there.
In 1997, I began a two-year graduate program which earned me an MFA in Writing for Children from Vermont College (now Vermont College of Fine Arts), in Montpelier, VT. During those two years, I spent even more time at the library, taking out stacks of children's books and taking refuge when I needed quiet time to work--quiet time I couldn't always get at home.
My eighth book has just been published. Its been a long journey, and one I hope still has miles to go. I have spent more hours in libraries than I could ever hope to count, and inside of me I carry a piece of every one I've ever known. They have helped me--in Paddy Moloney's words--to provide the service for which the good Lord made me. To all of them--thank you. I couldn't have done it without you.