Irons in the Fire

I’ve been called a lot of things in my life. Some were positive things, some were negative things. Some were merited and many were not. In any combination of these situations, my favorite thing that I have been called is “a hustler.”

My first reaction to this allegation was identical to when I was sorted via Pottermore (a.k.a. the most official Hogwarts House sorting there is aside from the actual Sorting Hat). I was sorted into Slytherin and hit with a wave of confusion and a hint of defensiveness.

Me? A Slytherin?! I’ve always thought I’d be a Ravenclaw (smart), maybe even a Hufflepuff (kind). But Slytherins are the bad guys! They cheat and steal and lie and sometimes even kill to win. Slytherins are the hustlers of the wizarding world. I mean, there’s not a witch or wizard who went bad who wasn’t in Slytherin!

And then, the pause came… because not all Slytherins go bad. They’re just most likely to. But what are they known for above all throughout history? Not their potential evil, but their ambition. And just because the phrase “hustle” has one bad connotation, doesn’t mean the word overall is negative. After all, what did I always get praised for on my youth sports teams? Was it my height? Nope. My great hand-eye coordination? Nah. It was my relentless hustle.

I’ve grown to truly accept and even embrace this about myself: I am a Slytherin. I am ambitious. I hustle hard to get what I want.

As a hustler and a lady with drive, I often get down on myself for not being enough soon enough. Because on top of being ambitious, I am also impatient. It comes with the territory. Not only do I want results, darn it, but I want them now! I set a goal and am, at times, relentless in pursuing it, forgetting that age-old adage that good things take time, that the journey is the reward.

Sometimes, especially recently, I get caught up in the immediacy of my desires and forget to remind myself the difference between setting the stage and stagnation. I have to remind my go-getting, Hamiltonian self that Burr did have a point: that sometimes you are not standing still, but lying wait.

For the past year and a half, I haven’t made any big moves in my career as a librarian or as a writer. I’ve been working behind the scenes, certainly, and submitting myself to the daily grind of reading, writing, writing, researching, reading, reviewing, reading about writing, writing about what I’ve read… Despite all this, I haven’t felt much, if any, progression. But that was my own miscalculation. You see, I mistook myself for stagnant when, truly, I’ve been steadily gaining steam, building potential energy, actively casting irons into the fire.

I was recently shown that those irons have been heating up quite nicely.

Some time ago, I put my name into consideration to serve on the evaluation committee for the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award (one of the Illinois state sponsored book awards akin to the nationally recognized Newbery Award). And last week, I got the call. Or, the e mail, as it were.

A dream came true four years ago when I was offered my first positions as a library intern (no doubt leading to my subsequent positions as a *real* librarian). Another dream came true three years ago when I began reviewing young people’s literature for School Library Journal. And now, one more dream is coming true as I embark on my first award committee endeavor. It will be a lot of reading. It will be a lot of writing. But something about my past, something about my hustle, tells me I am more than up for the challenge ahead.

And what’s more? All of those irons that still remain in the fire? I am more than willing to wait for them.


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