Friday, January 15, 2016

And Today It's Just Me

Yesterday, every time I checked my email I started to cry.

I received congratulations from my old elementary school, the one I walked to from kindergarten through fifth grade. Patty MacLachlan wrote that she remembered me as "young, lovable, and wonderfully ambitious," and then sent another email to add, "You are still young and lovable." (Ok, that made me laugh, not cry, because when I read the first email I thought, at least I'm still wonderfully ambitious.)

Then I got a letter from an 18-year-old girl named Ruthanne Hawks, who'd found an old book going through her bookshelves and wanted to tell its author how much it meant to her as a child. That would be my first novel, Ruthie's Gift, which was based on stories from my grandmother Ruth Ann Hawk. The reader Ruthie included a photo of her book's inscription--she'd gotten it for her 2nd birthday, and said she always felt, growing up, like she was never alone because she had a fictional twin.

Then I read Sophie Blackwell's blogpost about all her emotions surrounding her Caldecott win for Finding Winnie. Sophie quoted my post from last week ("I want to win the Newbery so bad it makes my teeth hurt. At the same time, it doesn't actually matter at all.") as something that helped her cope with the pre-awards buzz. And I'm keeping in mind advice I got from Kirby Larson. She won a Newbery Honor for Hattie Big Sky, and was kind enough to send me congratulations the moment my Honor was announced.

"What do I do now?" I asked her.

She wrote back, "Buy a sparkly dress and learn to say no."

Then my editor wrote wanting some stuff about my next book, for its launch which is coming soon.

I'm an introvert, albeit a chatty one, and I absolutely need time alone with my words. For me, down time is up time--it fills me. So today I'm writing. I'm paying taxes, and I'm mailing my son the charger he forgot, and I'm going to yoga where my instructor, Adriel, assures me we will celebrate my awards by "resting in plank." (She's serious. For Adriel plank is a resting position.) I'm doing laundry, because I always do laundry. Every damn day there is laundry. And I'm writing, by myself, in a quiet house with my dog at my feet, the way I do nearly every day. The buzz is frothy and delicious, like champagne, but I'm a writer, not an awards-winner. It all comes back to stillness and words on a page.