I am often asked how I got started with writing and consulting. It all began in 1983. I had taught for a while, was pregnant with my first child, and had decided to start my own business. My friend, Pat Smith in CyFair ISD, suggested I contact people she knew at two companies– Continental Press in Elizabethtown, PA (near where I grew up) and Houghton Mifflin (who had an office in Dallas where I had just moved). I made personal contact with folks in both places and began to do free-lance writing.
How it all began
February 24, 2010 by debbiediller
You might think I wrote best-selling books… I did not! I wrote bulletin board ideas, teacher resource materials, workbooks, test questions, and even Sunday School curriculum… many by hand or on a typewriter (computers were not widely used at this time). In addition, I did per diem work for book publishers. This included setting up and tearing down displays and standing all day long on hard floors at conferences. (Schlepping books is hard work; those boxes are heavy!) On weekends and during summers, I presented workshops at conferences. Many times I presented for free and paid my own way to get there.
For several years, I stayed home with my two children and worked part-time doing per-diem consulting and writing. Then I returned to teaching and continued consulting and writing in the evenings, on weekends, and in the summers along with tutoring after-school. During this time, my husband changed careers, and I supported our family while he went to optometry school.
In 1999, I was part of a teacher research group, The Harvard Educator’s Forum, led by my dear friend, Olga McLaren in Houston. With the encouragement and support of a wonderful group of teachers, I wrote and published my first professional article for The Reading Teacher. It was about working with African-American children as a white teacher. Lisa Delpit wrote me a personal letter encouraging me in this work.
In 2000, I quit my teaching job and started as an independent full-time consultant. In 2002, Nancy Considine of QEP introduced me to Philippa Stratton at Stenhouse Publishers who published my first professional book, Literacy Work Stations, in 2003. (My first book proposal was turned down by several publishers, including Stenhouse.)
For me, the road to writing and consulting has been one filled with perseverance, discipline, and meeting just the right people at the right time who have helped make my dream come true. I give thanks for each of them!
For those of you who have a similar wish and have written asking me how to become a consultant, this is my story. I hope you will find it helpful.