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The Humble Climb of the Intern

The Humble Climb of the Intern


It all started with a cup of coffee.

I sat at a table in the Barnes and Noble Starbucks. At the other end of the small table was Darcy Pattison, the woman who gave me an opportunity.

As we talked fervently about writing, I told tell her about my dreams of publishing a story I carefully crafted and put on the page.

That’s when the offer came.

She offered me a position as an intern at her publishing house. She told me most of the things that would consume my time in her office would be spent doing the small things that needed to be done, but she was simply too busy to do. In return, she would critique and read my writing.

I then realized that this was simply more than an introductory conversation. It was an interview.

After we parted ways, I went home and eagerly told my mom about the position Pattison offered. She encouraged me to accept, so I did.

Every Thursday, starting in the following school year, I drove to Mims House and met with Pattison. We started off our days together with brief conversations about writing, life, and what work needed to be done that day. After that, I would sit at the desk I had in her office and promptly get to work.

After I had written more of my story, I sent it to her. I waited with bated breath for her critiques. She had more experience in the writing industry than I did. Definitely. She’s published over fifty books and taught classes about writing at a university in our state. I was excited to hear about what she liked--and didn’t like--about my book.

Let me tell you, my book transformed like the pumpkin to the beautiful carriage from Cinderella.

Pattison pointed out what went wrong, what went right, and pointed me in the right direction of improvement where I needed it. She wasn’t mean or condescending about any of it; she genuinely wanted to help me become a better writer, and by having her teach me through her experience, I’ve vastly improved.

After working for her once a week during the school year, another opportunity arose.

On my (supposed) last week of working for her, she offered me a position. I could be her paid assistant for the summer. This was fantastic! I was already looking for a job. I loved working for her as an intern, but now I could do it and get paid? Sign me up!

During my time at Mims House, I’ve done so much more than work. I’ve seen both the creative and the business side of writing. I’ve scanned over my own creative works with Pattison and held vibrant discussions about creative writing. Writing is much more than words on a page. There comes a side of it you don’t hear about often. The business side.

Over the past school year and summer, I’ve bared witness to the tactful battles of business deals and self-advocating; the honing of self discipline to sit down and work. To sit down and do the tedious things that need doing, because they really are important.

Because of Darcy Pattison, I’ve matured as a writer. I’ve learned to think critically about my own writing. To ask about the why that moves my characters, the setting, the plot, and the story at large. When to exclude things, and what to cut out from the story entirely. I’ve had to go back to the metaphorical skeleton of my story and dive into changes upon her advising, and I come out of it with a much stronger story.

I’m proud of what I’m accomplishing by working with Pattison. I’ve not only gained valuable knowledge in the art of writing but also work experience that has opened my eyes to the reality of being a writer and the industry I will one day take part in.  

Walt Disney used to say, “It all started with a mouse.” But for me, it all started with a cup of coffee.


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About Darcy Pattison

Children’s book author and indie publisher DARCY PATTISON writes award-winning fiction and non-fiction books for children. Five books have received starred PW, Kirkus, or BCCB reviews. Awards include the Irma Black Honor award, five NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books, two Eureka! Nonfiction Honor book, two Junior Library Guild selections, two NCTE Notable Children’s Book in Language Arts, a Notable Social Studies Trade Book, an Arkansiana Award, and the Susannah DeBlack Arkansas Children’s History Book
award. She’s the 2007 recipient of the Arkansas Governor’s Arts Award for Individual Artist for her work in children’s literature. Her books have been translated into ten languages.

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