There is no reading between the lines to be done here (publishing people, I know how this works, yo), it was my decision to leave Puffin, the imprint I've called home--in the truest sense of the word--for the last sixteen years of my life. And it was one of the hardest decisions I've had to make.
I love books, I love publishing, and at Puffin (and Penguin!) I've worked with some of the most insanely talented, generous, kind, smart, and loving people. I am honored to know them, and to see the creative things they can do. And I am honored to call them my friends. They have seen me through so many major stages of my life--when I started at Penguin, I was 23 and single living in an apartment. I'm leaving at 39, married with two kids and owning a house. They saw me through everything from my first date with JBB through getting hitched, three miscarriages, two successful pregnancies, buying two houses, renovations, and everything in between. I am going to miss going to hang out with my friends everyday.
And I got to do some pretty cool shit: meet Paula Danziger--hell, sit NEXT TO PAULA EFFING DANZIGER at my very first sales conference and try not to shake while meeting my childhood favorites; act as line bouncer for a bunch of rowdy teachers and librarians waiting to meet Henry Winkler; have (many) drinks with Tomie dePaola and hear a master storyteller at work; visit an animation studio; make someone's dream come true by acquiring her young adult novel, and in the process make a lifelong friend (with excellent taste in shoes and pink barns); write several books (one even credited!); go to the Today show with Jeff Probst for a book that hit the Times list; pitch an idea and put together a project that becomes a New York Times bestseller, year after year; participate in a book-themed-cake-off to celebrate an author visiting the office (I lost. I knew I should have gone chocolate and played to the judges); watch authors go from a regular anonymous person folks to superstars; and most of all read and work on a shit ton of amazing books with talented folks.
It was awesome. It IS awesome. But I'm just done with the stress of it all. The lack of balance in my life was killing me. I was constantly running--running to the train, to work, running to relieve the sitter, running running running. And those who know me know how much I HATE running. I was lucky enough to be working at a company with excellent parental policies, and for two working mothers who knew EXACTLY what I was going through and doing. Thank god for that, because otherwise I would have melted down years ago.
But no matter how much I loved the people, and working with authors and creating books, I needed the balance back. I've never been one of those people where my entire world is one thing, it's never been just children's publishing--as this blog shows, I have a ton of things I want to do. I want to make things and hang out with my kids and read not-for-work again and edit cool stuff. And I am in a privileged enough position to be able to gain the freedom to do the ton of things I want to do by doing something terrifying and scary like quitting my job and going freelance.
The thing is, I am the WORST with change. The absolute worst. My entire family--including my kids--can testify to that. And don't think that I'm not second guessing my decision every day, wondering if I made the right choice. But for once in my life, I think I'm actually ok with this change. (I say this now. Talk to me after my last day and the many many ugly cries.)
So, if you're in the market for some editorial consulting, go check me out at jenbonnell.com!
And meanwhile I'll try to get better about posting more regularly, now that I have no good excuse not to.