Hello! I'm sitting here in my dining room, peering out over piles of boxes of dusty books. Usually my desk is in my writing room, which is now full of baby stuff. We're in a transition state now-- the baby will be here in a few weeks, and we're making room for him-- sending bags of clothes to Goodwill, throwing out junk, recycling cartons of old paper (I finally let go of my three file cabinets full of grad school articles taking up space in the garage, and it felt GOOD!) (Hmm, I just reread that and it sounded like we're sticking our baby in the garage. Not so. All his material possessions will go in what was my writing room, and my writing room stuff will go in our dining room and my new old canned ham trailer.) The thing is, our previously plastic-free home is being inundated with plastic baby stuff, and we're making space for it all.
(One more thing about my baby-- a few confused people have come up to me at events, saying, wow, you don't look eight months pregnant! And I realized I mentioned the baby previously in this blog but neglected to mention that we're adopting him from Guatemala-- which explains my my lack of a basket-ball sized belly. He's extremely cute, incidentally, and happy and smart and playful...)
I've been trying to balance my writing time with my getting-ready-for-baby time, although lately the latter has been eclipsing everything. I do feel grumpy and overall yucky if I don't write regularly, though. It's a tricky balance. I've been spending lots of time thinking about how I can make sure I have several hours of writing time every day once he comes. (I keep calling him "he" not to be mysterious, but we're not 100% sure what his name will be yet.) I feel like this gigantic whirlwind is heading toward me and will swirl me up and transport me to another world... and how do you really, truly get ready for something phenomenally huge and life-changing like that?
In case you're wondering what I've been writing lately, mostly I've been finishing up a very rough draft of my next book (and like my baby, the name is still uncertain, so I'll be mysterious about the title.) The deadline in my contract is May 1, which scares me a bit. I've had many years to try to figure out how to be creative on demand, and while it's true that I've uncovered some strategies that work for me, still, creativity is such a mysterious and magical thing. For me it requires lowering to a deeper level of consciousness, to a place of images and symbols, and bringing those back up to the surface. This is not easy to do when you're up to your ears in getting-ready-for-baby-- or whatever life-changing event you happen to be in the midst of. But I think that at the heart of it, writing is, for me, a kind of meditation-- leaving the details of the everyday world for a period of time every day to clear a space inside for more timeless feelings to come. I think the times when I most need to access this timeless place are precisely in the midst of big, overwhelming life changes.
So, I figured I'd post a few more pics of the Maryland book tour and a few local events I've been doing. At the beginning of this entry is one of me and my good friend Todd Mitchell, author of The Traitor King (Read it! It's fantastic!) doing a reading at the Tattered Cover bookstore in Denver-- one of the biggest yet coziest independent bookstores I've had the pleasure of perusing. And here's another of that same reading, with my younger friend who is a brilliant, up-and-coming writer who I met while doing creative writing workshops at his school.
I had a great time one evening hanging out with several fun ladies in Greeley, who read Red Glass for their book club (see the pic of lovely women holding my book!) I've been to book club meetings for What the Moon Saw before, but this was the first one for Red Glass. It's such a treat for me to hear readers' responses to scenes that have existed in my mind for years... It's magical to hear how these scenes and characters touch people in surprising ways... how people connect with characters that have lived in my head with me for so long... and now they're let loose out in the big wide world bonding with perfect strangers!
I'll post a few more Maryland book tour pics, too. Here's one of me talking to my sixth grade reading teacher, Ms. Witt, who enthusiastically arranged my visit to my old stomping grounds, Dunloggin Middle School (see pic below). I had a fabulous time with the students there-- and I got to reconnect with a few old teachers -- and I finally got to see what goes on behind the closed door of the mysterious teachers' lounge (which I can't divulge due to the oath of secrecy I was forced to take...)
And above is another pic from the Maryland tour, from the Howard County Library creative writing workshop (see pic with brown brick wall background.)
Below is a pic of me and my good friend Maria. We did a presentation together as part of the library's Day of the Dead festivities on our book-in-progress (tentatively called The Queen of Water). For several years, we've been writing a book together, based on her girlhood and teenage years in the Ecuadorian Andes. At this point, we have a solid draft done, and are in the process of getting lots of great feedback from writers, and bilingual teachers and librarians. (Note that this is not the book with a deadline in May, so we have the luxury of more time to gather feedback.) Since Maria is headed back to Ecuador for a few months, we figured now would be a good time for a fun photo shoot. When people hear about or read her story, they're surprised at how young she is now. The events of her life are the kind of thing you'd expect would have taken place a couple centuries ago, when slavery was still officially in existence in the Americas. (Of course, her childhood fascination with Bugs Bunny and MacGyver gives away that no, this happened only 20 years ago.)
All right, that's all for now. I'm off to donate some old books to Matter Bookstore (which you should check out if you live in Fort Collins-- a great non-profit used bookstore and literary mag.)
I'll be in Arizona for a few days next week to accept the Arizona Young Adult Award-- which I'm super-excited about-- and then, probably a week or two later, we'll head down to Guatemala. I'll try to send an update in a few weeks from the midst of the whirlwind....