Monday, September 19, 2016


Today, having acquired printer cartridges and a day without an impending deadline, I am finally printing a full copy of the most recent version of The War I Finally Won. I'm also doing laundry, putting my suitcases away, and--gasp!--organizing my office. You can now reach my desk chair without climbing over stacks of books or tripping over the printer. There is, in fact, a wide stretch of open floor. There are also several square feet of visible desktop, and that hasn't been true for a good long time.

The to-read piles still exist, but they've been moved and consolidated and they're really not nearly as obtrusive, at least from the point of view of my chair, as they used to be. Books for specific projects (TWIFW, the King Tut book, review books, and Golden Kite books) are in separate stacks on my counter. I can actually use my loom again, having moved the books impeding its operation, and I've even straightened up some of my knitting. My hopes are that sometime this week I might tackle both my hand-wash and my mending piles. Ambitious, I know, but I'm like that.

Today is a big deep breath of air. This weekend was another.

I spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the Mid-South regional conference of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. I gave the opening keynote speech on Saturday morning and taught a session on writing historical fiction on Sunday. I left the conference feeling like I'd rejoined my tribe.

Now, I've been an SCBWI member for something rapidly approaching 30 years. I value what I learned in the organization, both as a beginning writer and a blossoming one. I've been to conferences in Massachusetts and Indiana as an attendee, and in Indiana and North Carolina as faculty. But I live five hours from Nashville, the heart of the writing community in Tennessee, and for the last several years haven't made the effort to connect with my fellow writers there. I have now, and I'm so glad I did. I'm reminded how much fun it is to swap stories of the Worst School Visit Ever, or the craziest thing an editor ever said to you. I'm reminded how good it feels to share what I've learned; I'm also reminded how much I still have to learn.  I wore my cowboy boots and I spent three days with my people. It was brilliant. I'll be back.