Imagination doesn't just mean making things up. It means thinking things through, solving [problems] or hoping to do so, and being just distant enough to be able to laugh at things that are normally painful. [Some people] would call this escapism, but they would be be entirely wrong. I would call fantasy the most serious, and the most useful branch of writing there is.
--Diana Wynne Jones

Monday, February 24, 2014

Confessions of a (Sort of) Hobbit

I have decided I am a hobbit.

I'd really rather stay home by the fire with my books and my laptop and garden (even though it happens to be dead because it's February) than go anywhere at all.  Even to the grocery store. Even for an adventure. Not that I have many adventures at the grocery store, but that isn't the point.

The point is: I don't like to walk out the door.

Unless Gandalf shows up and pushes me out. Er, not necessarily Gandalf. Maybe just a crazy wish to publish my crazy books. And the cat randomly biting me. Hiss! Grrr! Go to New York!  I took it as an omen. Or, something.

So last Wednesday, yes, I did leave my poor children in the care of my poor husband and also a severely disturbed cat, and I walked out the door and got on a plane to a children's book-writing conference in New York. No, Gandalf didn't come. My daughter did, which was almost as good, except she doesn't carry a magical staff--only her phone with a subway app--and her hat isn't pointy.

Running out the door

First mistake: taking the red-eye flight. What was I thinking?
Second mistake: taking Dramamine 45 minutes too late. Four hours of sick and not sleepy enough to sleep upright from 12 am to 4 am.

The result: a woozy Thursday that only an enormous double-dark-chocolate cookie from Levain Bakery could fix. Yes, it worked. Everything got better from there. Especially the food. New York bagels for lunch and Indian food for dinner. Delicious.
View out my window
Friday: 45 minutes on the treadmill plus intensives with an agent and a publisher and two groups of lovely people who also happened to be great writers. Plus Cuban food for lunch and New York pizza for dinner, with a little MOMA in between. Umm, yes. Good thing about the morning run.

Saturday: 35 minutes on the treadmill and an inspiring keynote by Jack Gantos, former drug-smuggler-turned-children's-author, then agent Daniel Lazar on getting and communicating with an agent. Shake-shack burgers, fries, and chocolate shake for lunch.

Editor Nancy Siscoe talked about middle-grade novels in the afternoon, then Elizabeth Wein gave a powerful speech on a writer's responsibility to her audience and to the people she writes about. A little scary, considering what I'm writing. But it was good to ponder.
Me, eating again

I skipped the panel on book-banning next because, yes, of course I agree books should not be banned. You don't have to convince me. I'd rather go eat. Preferably at The Eatalian. So delicious.

Oops--missed the buffet dinner and social. But my daughter was meeting friends later and it was our only time to hang out. And eat really good food, as opposed to light banquet food. Which I'm sure was lovely, but I'll bet not as lovely as what I ate instead. Then back to the hotel and a good book, because I was pretty jet-lagged by then and also socially burned out. I'm used to my evening books by the fire. After all, like most writers I know, I am a thorough introvert.

Sunday we slept in and didn't attend anything but a hot shower and church and the top of the Rock and Le Pain Quotidien for lunch. Seriously delicious. And then a sick-making taxi ride to the airport because I forgot to take my Dramamine again.
Anna and me on top of the Rock. Except you can't see the view. Huh.

We were early. Really early. Which meant dinner in the airport. Food could have been worse. Could've been better, too. Had a yummy green smoothie at Jamba Juice. And then fell asleep on top of my book and leaning over a counter because the Dramamine finally kicked in with a vengeance.

Top of the Rock, with view
The upside of the earliness: we didn't miss our plane and I was never sick the entire flight, thanks to even more Dramamine. Finished reading my book and we didn't die, either--always a worry for a person with anxiety disorders, like me. And for my kid, who's way too cool and old now to say, the way he always used to: "Have a good trip, Mom, and don't die!"
What do you say to a send-off like that, anyway?

I could never think of anything but, "Ok, honey. I won't." Which always prompted the obvious: "How do you know?"

Well, um, I don't.

But somehow I managed. I went to New York and back and I didn't die. Not even from good-food overdose, which might have been a miracle. I'm not sure. Still too strung out on Dramamine. I'll tell you tomorrow when my brain is back. After I've curled up by the fire for awhile with my books...

Playing High and Dry with Sourdough

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