As a writer and a mama, one of the things I do to stay sane is lower my expectations, writing-wise, during summer vacation.
And when I say lower, think basement.
Like, um, a coupla grocery lists, a few emails with my editor and lots of trips to the library.
Because honestly, I'm already teaching a class that requires a whole lot of critiquing, and the girls are only out of school for a couple of months, and there are popsicles to be eaten. The last thing I need is a constantly-running brain hum:
You are not worth your weight in pencil lead... everyone else in the known universe has written reams this week, except you... time is running out -- all books need to be finished in the next 24 hours... your brain will be mush by September... you'd better review some basic vocabulary words... you'd better review the alphabet.
Not gonna go there.
Instead, I just aim low and enjoy any surprises that come my way.
Last summer it was my trip to L.A. for the SCBWI conference that shot my expectations out of the water.
And then a fevered, late-summer writing binge that resulted in my next picture book.
Now, already, I've crushed this season's delusions of nothingness.
I spent most of the past 72 hours with a most extrordinary group of children's writers.
Months ago, nearly 30 of us exchanged manuscripts and started reading.
Friday morning, we gathered at the gracious home of Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith & we barely budged for 3 days.
(Well, okay. Unless you count the grand party thrown at the fabulous, view-happy home of workshoppee Helen Hemphill on Saturday night. We did not suffer...)
Each and every piece was critiqued with meticulous attention, ideas and admiration (and I'm telling you guys, these are some fine, fine budding books.)
Everyone was so interested and interesting, generous, thoughtful, careful, honest.
And everyone was funny, to boot.
I'm pretty sure I'm not the only writer who was a little weepy when things broke up on Sunday and we returned to our real lives. I mean, of course. Right?
But here's the beautiful part.
This is my real life.
This is my real community.
These are real people who are real good with real words and generous hearts and I've got them in my real life.
Which is why, instead of coming crashing back down today amidst errands and chores, I'm still floatin'.
(Thanks, Greg, Cyn, Donna, Carmen, Tim, Julie, Helen and all the rest of you amazing voices for a heckuva weekend...)
- Still Floatin' -- Awesome Austin Writers' Workshop