Today’s post, in lieu of an essay, is a set of notes I took during a two-hour lunch break last Saturday in the middle of the Children’s Literature Summer Institute (blog post here). It was sunny, after days of clouds and rain, and I wandered over to Jersey Street for Thai food, wine, dessert, and the solitude that happens on city streets and in restaurants. I sat alone at one of the three tables with umbrellas on the sidewalk out front, and the waiter did not rush me. I wrote — about the conference and what was going on around me. It looks like I made some thought or section breaks as I wrote, by inserting horizontal lines; I kept them in this transcript:
Everyone [speaking at the conference] seems fully to make their living from art — only Yee even used words having to do with money + employment.
I surmise though that speaking at these conferences helps writers/illustrators connect with school librarians who hire them to speak at their schools. In fact, the school librarians I met mentioned specifically that they were hoping to bring some of their artists to their schools. There seems esp. to be budgets for this in K-8.
For me, this kind of environment is really inspiring — gets me wanting to do this, to value it as important.
The YA novelists talk about themes in their novels that were themes in their teen years. They keep trying to work them out. How did I stop my YA novel so easily, worrying about neurosis? This is the territory — maybe writing is not the way of mental health.
Where I am sitting — waitress put a plate with little condiment cups full of bits of food under branches of a potted shrub — like an overgrown bonsai. Bird come and go. Seems like a ritual.
Physical place — studio — seems v. important.
Both Jeanne Birdsall and Amy Patten quoted from their youthful diaries. And here I was on the verge of destroying mine, to make the past the past, to not go back to old material, to start new, where I am now.
M.T. Anderson talk about not being desirable as a teen — how that was his experience of himself — he is v. good looking man now — well-dressed, good shoes + hair, unusual specs — carefully chosen. Is his adult self continuous with his teen self? Or, is he beyond that in his life but still obsessed with that memory? Actually I don’t know how you could compartmentalize those two — or maybe you could know yourself as one identity rationally but feel yourself to be the other.
Ginger Ice Cream — yes, the right thing. With candied ginger.
Also feeling glad for small things:
no talkers around me
no need to talk or listen
Near me, suddenly, family of four + 2 little dogs.
Mom incessantly narrating, in gentle voice
- about the food (steamed tofu + brown rice)
- about the kids (stories of their babyhood)
- about herself: “I liked all food when I was a kid.”
“I hope you remember your childhood happily.”
“I had a happy childhood.”
“That tasted so good.”
Why do I want to suspect her of deep-seated and twisted motivations?