Hi. It’s been a while. Hope you’ve been good. What a winter, right? And now it’s spring. Sort of.
This spring has been and will continue to be of a whirlwind of events, even though what I need to be doing is finishing my W.I.P. (which means Work In Progress not West In Peace). I am working hard on said book, but lately the work on the book has been between trips hither and yon, and events close to home. And because I write so many different kinds of books, it seemed like each event was for a different me. Or the same me, but wearing different hats. Sometimes I wonder if I wear too many hats, but I have to finish this book before I can even address that question.
All of the events so far have been great, and there have been many moments that nourished this writer’s soul. So I thought I’d share some highlights with you. And maybe even a word or two of advice.
Math Hat: Last Monday I attended a day-long meeting with some very nice people who have money and want to make sure there are more and more great books published with math in them. At the end of the day there was a reading with me, Chris Raschka, and Jon Scieszka. Yes, we had FUN. And a nice surprise was that my wonderful friend Marthe Jocelyn happened to be in town for her daughter’s wedding, and she came by to say hi. I gave her a new math book idea, for which she will either hate me or love me. I hope it’s the latter because I love her and I also love her new book, WHAT WE HIDE, which you MUST read. Thank you. Advice: after an event, if it’s raining and you don’t have an umbrella, go out for a drink with your friend.
(That was also my friend hat and my promoting great literature hat. But those hats will never get thrown away.)
Also with my Math Hat on, or at least my nonfiction hat, well and also my “I am a children’s book author” hat, which includes fiction (too many hats?), I went to Charlottesville, VA for the Virginia Festival of the Book. That was back in March. But, come to think of it, it was warmer then than it is today. I had a great time at the festival and the day before that visiting Charlottesville public schools. Here I am talking about how much work writing is by showing a huge stack of Charles and Emma pages, with editorial notes…. (The teachers love me for this slide. I tell them to just send chocolate. Sometimes they give me some on the spot!)
I stayed with good friends, who made wonderful food and drove me everywhere. And the wonderful Marfé Ferguson Delano stayed with me. Advice to all writers: To every event, add a friend, or make a friend. Gail and Steve (hosts) took us to Peter Chang’s. More advice: To every event add a great meal!
So Charlottesville, Math meeting, and then two days later, I put on my Religious Studies Major Hat and went to the Calvin College Festival of Faith and Writing in Grand Rapids, MI. Advice: Take chances. I was a little worried about how this Jewish girl would be received at Calvin College. Well, let me tell you, I have NEVER been any place where every single person was so very nice. And smart. And kind. And nice. And welcoming. And nice… yes. If asked to be a presenter: GO. If you are interested in the topic (look at the schedule, it was AWESOMELY packed), attend. And I made a few new friends (one of whom I had a public conversation with about historical fiction and nonfiction. Hi, Tracy!) and turned some acquaintances into friends. Hi, Mitali! Hi, Pam!
I spoke about “How Much is Too Much: Religion in YA Literature” –a question that I answered not at all but had fun trying. (And what a great, attentive, nice audience at 8:30 a.m.!) For this talk, by the way, I had on my religious studies major hat, my Jewish girl hat, AND my nonfiction primary source researcher and writer hat. I hope they could see my face. (Though at that early hour, maybe it’d be better not to…)
I heard two GREAT keynotes! Way to go, Gene and Rachel. A few highlights from those talks: Rachel said, “jealousy happens when you compare your insides to someone else’s outside.” And Gene talked about art being an act of service, which I loved. Rachel also said that she has a post-it on her computer that reads: “THE NEXT SENTENCE IS NOT IN THE REFRIGERATOR.”
Wait. It ISN’T??? Is it in the CHOCOLATE STASH?
I also went to a really good presentation by Peter Orner, and one by Raymond Singer, who is a filmmaker. Check out his website and watch some of his shorts. My mind was stretched and expanded and — Advice: Go to conferences a little bit outside of your usual zone, your comfort zone. Anne Lamott said the key to life is Showing Up. I second that.
At Calvin they give you a student, or as Anne Lamott called hers, a “case worker.” I wish I had one in life. She got me where I needed to go when I needed to go there. Plus she was kind and brilliant and together. And she has a cute little nose stud. Catherine, would you come live with me? Advice: Find a Catherine.
All the students I met were impressive and nice and kind. (Do you notice I keep saying nice and kind. I MEAN to.) One of the students, Taylor Stawecki, wrote a paper about me that is one of the best pieces ever written about me. I don’t know what she will end up doing with her life, but whatever she chooses, I know she will do it well. I hope it’s writing… then I can give her all kinds of advice. Like maybe, pick one hat and wear it? Or maybe, go ahead, wear as many hats as you want. ANYWAY….
When I got back to NYC, it was SPRING!
And then it got really cold and there was frosty snow all over my plants. Boo! But I think they’re Ok. We had a seder, I had a four-hour dental appointment (I am such royalty, two crowns, thank you), and now I’m back to work. Until Gaithersburg and beyond. Where I will see a dear old friend, an old aunt, and, I hope, eat something delicious.
I guess I should have an EATING HAT. What would THAT look like?