This year, I was up on stage. Only for an hour, as part of the Editor and First-time Author Panel, but that was enough to find out how important MOTA's are. Whenever I thought about being nervous, I would look out at them. Contrary to popular movies, the whole room was not a blur. I could see individual faces. I most definitely saw Anne Marie Pace's lovely face (and silently thanked her not only for her rapt attention but for her earlier labor, hauling all those hard plastic chairs for all those MOTA's.) I saw members of my writing group that had supported me for years. (Doris! Linda! Barbara! I'll say it again: You saved my life.) And I saw lots and lots of MOTA's I didn't know, but whose faces were just as important to me because MOTA's, fellow writers, lovers of children's books: You are my tribe. And I need you.
You are the reason I didn't write out my answers to the panel questions. I noticed that all the editors did. They came ultra-prepared, with detailed notes, carefully typed. (And that's exactly how I want editors to be, by the way. No vagueness from them, please.) But as for me, I wanted to be able to speak from the heart. To tell the story of how a MOTA became a MOTF. (Member of the Faculty) I wanted to trust you to hear my unpolished words, and to encourage you, and to give you hope. I wanted you to see that I had doubted, and struggled, and failed, and it was only by the grace of other MOTA's that I was able to keep going.
And I really, really want a MOTA from this recent conference to get up on the stage at another conference four or five years down the road and tell the same story. By the way, if it's you, it's okay if you write out your answers. I won't be checking. I'll be applauding.
UPDATE: By the way, when did this happen? No longer required? Why didn't they send out an email?
■Although the apostrophe is no longer required to form the plural of letters and numbers such as two Ph.D.s and the 1980s, use it when needed for clarity: four I’s and p’s and q’s.
So, I guess I could've used MOTAs. You wouldn't have been confused. Oh, wait. Audience IS already plural. Drat. Plural must be MsOTA. Or just MOTA. Pardon my utter confusion.