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Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
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on Tuesday, 18 May 2010 in Uncategorized

I am home, at last, and will remain at home until June 2nd, when I head to Maine for the summer---and another kind of home.

Martin had kindly saved the Sunday NY Times crossword puzzle, and we did it together, catching up on each other's news at the same time, before I even took my suitcase upstairs. Okay, correction: Martin carried it up for me.

I started out this latest trek last Thursday in Wallingford, Connectcut, a town I was last in when I had a boyfriend at Choate and went there for a weekend in 1953. When I checked into my hotel, I discovered it was filled with Choate Alumni there for a reunion, so I was in danger of running into an old flame--something that bad movie plots are made of---but there was no danger at all of either of us recognizing the other, after, let me do the math,  55 years.

I spoke that night at the Wallingford Pubic Library to a large and cheerful crowd of all ages. It is an unusually fabulous library, recently expanded and remodeled, and the town is so fortunate to have it and its enthusiastic staff.

On Friday I had to get from Wallingford, Connecticut to South Bend, Indiana, a daunting project. But everything worked smoothly, connections were made, and by nighttime I was in a hotel room in South Bend. On Saturday---a gorgeous sunny day---I received an honorary doctorate from St. Mary's College. The other honoree was Sylvia Earle, marine expert who had come from being Charlie Rose's guest the day before, in a conversation about the oil spill. After the graduation we were each waiting for the cars that would take us to our next destinations---Chicago for her, Indianapolis for me--and had an hour to have a glass of wine together. So what do two women of similar age, each of us with four grandchildren,  talk about over wine? Three guesses.

The next day, in Indianapolis, I spoke again in a pubic library, this time under the auspices of Shirley Mullin's wonderful bookstore, Kids Ink; and following that event, Shirley hosted a party at her lovely home for 50 or so book-loving people.  In the morning I went to the store itself---which had been too small for the public event the day before---and two separate groups of children came, each for an hour, from their schools. They could not have been more polite, more interested, more enthused. It was a treat to be with them, and with Shirley's staff.  One of the kids asked the question: "Of all your book characters, which one would you like to spend a day with?"...Then, because I needed time to think...they began to answer it themselves. All sorts of answers.  But it was Shirley, later, whose answer I loved, when she told me privately that she would have said "Rabble Starkey's mother."  A long-ago book of mine, Rabble Starkey, and largely forgotten, but one of my favorites---and one of Shirley's.

Then off to Cincinnati, and that evening a talk and signing at the Blue Manatee bookstore; here's a picture of their cafe, where I had a lovely tea before the crowd gathered.

Blue Manatee

All bookstores should have a cafe, I think---or, like Kids Ink, a cupcake store next door!

In every group of kids asking questions, there is one that stands out; in Indianapolis it was a freckled-faced boy named Sam. At the Blue Manatee---I don't remember his name, but again a boy, maybe eleven. In asking a question, he said, referring to a book passage: "And I quote. . . "  Of course I've forgotten, now, what he quoted. But I won't forget the seriousness or his careful and scholarly preparation.

This morning, still in Cincinnati, I was at one more bookstore—Joseph-Beth, which also has a fine cafe! And a mascot for the children's section; here I am holding the toy dinosaur they call Bob, who was dressed for the occasion in a bright red dress---looked sort of transvestite-y to me.  Maybe Jane Yolen could do about that??!!!  Jane? Are you listening? How do Dinosaurs Cross-Dress?

Jospeh-Beth Books

From Jospeh-Beth I went to the airport and now am safe at home, weary, and about to have take-out Chinese food for dinner.  Many nice, nice memories from this trip.

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Comments

Guest
Laraine Herring Monday, 29 November 1999

Thank you for posting that response. I get asked this question a lot - from students and from other colleagues. It is so hard to convince them of the patience it takes to enter that relationship with words, but it's that relationship that will sustain them when the business-side of writing may fail them. Happy Thanksgiving!

Guest
Betty Birney Monday, 29 November 1999

I have been plagued with this question as well and when I've given an answer like yours, I often get a hostile reaction from the teacher/parent. All you say is true and beyond that, I think the editorial process of editor's notes/copyediting would be too difficult for a child to cope with (on the remote chance that a manuscript would be accepted). I wrote all the time as a child and it never once occurred to me that my work was publishable. I've read some excellent student writing but never anything even remotely saleable.

Guest
ojimenez Monday, 29 November 1999

I wonder if 'publishing' is necessary to validate the work or a writer, or if it (i.e publishing) is only necessary if she wants to make a living at it?
Cheers!

Guest
Lola Schaefer Monday, 29 November 1999

Thank you, Lois, for posting this advice for younger writers. I, too, am bombarded by teachers and parents with the same interest - immediate publication for the student writer. And even though I have said some of these very same things, perhaps not as eloquently, the adults do react in a less than enthusiastic manner just as Betty shared. However, I believe in this advice and will continue to share it. There's nothing that can replace the joy of true experimentation with language and unabashed self-expression.

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