First, the obligatory feet shot!
So, I got to commune with my toes for three days! (For too many weeks now, my toes and I have met only in the brief interval between tugging off my socks and sticking them under the covers). Those are some blissed-out feet you’re looking at.
My head was happy, too. I was in Orlando, at a retreat with fellow Greenhouse Literary writers. Our first morning together, my agent Sarah Davies described how, when she told a friend who agents adult work how she was bringing all her clients together, he regarded her with what could only be described as a mask of horror. Apparently assembling his authors together in one room would result in vicious comparing of advances and marketing plans, howling and bloodshed, etc. We kids’ writers seem to be a different breed. Not that we’re immune to doubt or envy (more on that in a second), but the over-riding ethos was camararderie and support and wow, aren’t we insanely lucky to get to do this thing we do?
(see the bumblebee?)
Sarah likes to pepper her talks with quotes, and one that made my heart beat faster was about how memories decompose, and how then, as writers, we recompose them into stories. (Maybe it was Graham Greene?) That got me scribbling ideas for my new work. She also urged us to know what we’re saying, to consider the take-away–this needs to go above my computer in big block letters. But lest we get too pragmatic: she wished us big thoughts, inspiration in big ideas. Respiration, inspiration–breathe into that work.
John Cusick, Sarah’s fellow agent and a writer himself, dispensed tips on how to stay (relatively, or at least ostensibly) sane doing our solitary, inherently risky work. In this society, isolation is more or less synonomous with unhappiness, yet it’s necessary to a writer. One thing he said particularly struck me: envy is your brain telling you what you really want. Listen, and work toward it. John also reminded us (and himself) not to be too goal directed/anal retentive, but to remember to sometimes write just for fun. Ahh.
(Speaking of fun: the Loch Ness monster made of Legos at the Disney Marketplace across the street from our hotel. That’s the Rainforest Cafe in the background–a volcano that erupts. There’s not exactly a lot of segue in the Magical Kingdom).
It’s rare that advice is simultaneously pragmatic and emotionally helpful, yet that’s what the weekend consisted of. Also lots of laughs with fellow writers whom I’ve long admired but never met; a talent show that included knife throwing and black belt karate (who says kids’ writers are a docile bunch?) ; a reading of first pages, new books about everything from serial killers to ABC’s; and yes–sunshine and toe wiggling.
A two hour flight had me back here, in the White Northern Kingdom. Too fast, too dizzying. But waiting for me: the copyedited manuscript of “Moonpenny Island”. And so, off to my solitary, my risky, my insanely privileged vocation.