going and coming: keene

The first fire of the season, and the copy edited manuscript for Revolution, book two of the '60s trilogy
After a trip to the north Georgia mountains to bring back apples and the last of the year's tomatoes
preparing for the trip
a stop along the way
David White, the founder and organizer of the Keene State Children's Literature Festival, with writer and artist Eric Velasquez
Jon Muth speaking
Lita Judge and David Judge, two of my favorite people.
David and Lita talking with Brian Lies at the end of the day
reception winding down after a long and lovely day of speakers and presentations
working on a hat while flying home on Sunday
Here's an experiment in forms. I took all photos with my new phone, an iPhone 4s, and used the blogger app to pull photos from the camera roll on the phone as well as from my Instagram app on the phone, so it looks like some photos are different sizes... the Instagram photos look smaller to me.

At any rate, welcome to the smart phone world, Deborah Wiles, and a new way of communicating via photos. I left the cozy fire and the copy-edited manuscript of Revolution behind (well, the CE ms went with me on my laptop), left the apples and tomatoes that were almost ready for attention, and prepared myself for a weekend of newness -- people and talking and traveling and negotiating a new place... and it was marvelous.

The Keene State Children's Literature Festival is in its 37th year. I presented with Jon Muth, Eric Velasquez, Brian Lies, and Ruth Sanderson. We rocked. hahahaha. The audience was utterly amazing, the kind of people who want you to do well. so send you good vibes, all day long, so you stand up a big straighter and bring your best game to the room.  There were lots of knitters, too, including me.

The speakers bowled me over. All of them illustrate but me, although I did show a slide of the map I drew for the inside front of Love, Ruby Lavender, so there. ha! Not quite on the same par. And the conversations we had together! Mind-stretching, thought-provoking, belly-laughing stuff. That's the best kind of togetherness.

I saw good friends, I made new friends, and I was sad to leave them all. Thank you to David White, who organizes this festival every year (the art gallery of original children's book artwork at Keene is worth going to see, even when there is no festival to attend), and thank you all the helpers at Keene (Hey, Pru!), to everyone in the audience, and on the podium, for embracing me and making me feel welcome.

Even when I'm sad to leave, I'm overjoyed to be home. The apples and the tomatoes wait patiently. The firewood is delivered this afternoon. The rain drizzles outside my window. The coffee is hot. The chair is comfortable. The stillness and the silence is essential.

I have four days to finish my last pass through Revolution before I can make no more changes. I have addressed all my copy editor's queries, and now I'm reading for story and flow and language and rhythm and clarity... that sort of thing. I love this part. I'm on page 58 of 482. eeep.

And, at the same time, my five-year-old laptop is literally falling apart -- now the screen is separating from the body. I've saved the copy edit to a thumb drive. I hope the computer allows me to finish my work on the novel before I need to replace it. And so it goes...

curating a life

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I wrote a tome about why I (once again) deactivated my facebook and twitter accounts, but it doesn't feel important, compared to the life happening all around me.

October was full of cookie baking, 5K walking, visiting grandgirls and celebrating birthdays, journeying to the north Georgia mountains in search of apples and the last of the season's tomatoes, speaking at the Keystone State Reading Association, and visiting friends along the way.

This week I'll can tomatoes and make applesauce. I'll order firewood. I'll get the car repaired. I'll make headway on the copyedited manuscript for Revolution. I'll work on a revision of a book about Bobby Kennedy that I've sold to Scholastic.

Then I'll travel to Keene, New Hampshire to speak at the children's literature festival there. 

I do okay on facebook and twitter for a while, but I feel so naked. Why is that? Maybe because, as much as I like seeing what's happening with everyone else, it's just. so. noisy. And I like being quiet. I need the quiet. It feeds me (until it doesn't).

So I'll let go of facebook and twitter and I'll keep blogging, where it's nice and quiet (ha!), and I'll keep hanging around on pinterest, where I archive my research and keep track of what interests me. When I get a smartphone I'll probably check out instagram. I think I have it figured out, finally.

I'm curating my life through these various online sources, I see that now. I'm investigating ways to remember, ways of seeing, ways to archive, and ways to hold on to the days that slip from my hands so quickly. That's my purpose in having an online presence. I try to be clear with myself, so I can be honest about what I do and why I do it.

I can't hold on to the days, of course. It's all an illusion. But I like the illusion. I like it as much as I like quietly walking through the days, with a sense of wonder and gratitude, trying to be present. I look at these photos and realize how lucky I am, and how full is my life, and how essential it is to have good work to do.

No matter what, though, I always return to the center of things. I like being still. I like listening to the birds begin their chatter in the morning as the sun rises. I like the wind through the pines. I like the lacy curtain of leaves that drifts through the day. I like walking out into my day or cozying up to the fire with a blanket and a book. I like to work hard.

I like to come tell you these things and I'm not sure why. I don't even know who you are, but this kind of communicating feels quiet and authentic and okay to me. Not naked-making. It's my space, and I'm happy to have it. Happy to share it, too.