Post Asilomar Mood

Returning from a writers’ conference is like coming home after visiting a country both familiar and yet full of unknown.
Spending a weekend with people who write, illustrate, edit books for children or represent writers or illustrators makes me feel at home, knowing that we all share a common passion for stories. But listening to the professionals who matter in the industry and to some of the greatest voices in contemporary children’s literature leaves me also humble, aware of the task ahead of me.
This year marks my first SCBWI Golden Gate Conference at the Asilomar. I came to meet agents and editors and it is always a moment I anticipate with a mix of hope and fear. And I always return home, surprised to have met talented professionals yet real and approachable men and women who share writers’ dreams and challenges.
As I wrote in a previous post this year was special since Gary Schmidt, the author of The Wednesday Wars one of my favorite books, was the keynote speaker. An accomplished storyteller always leaves a lasting impression. But this is not every day that a writer is offered a standing ovation. His words were a gift.
Gary Schmidt m’a coupé le souffle and I wish I could leave this in French. To take the breath away doesn’t seem as strong as to cut the breath. Mr. Schmidt’s words left me breathless and yet more alive than when I entered the room. If we all stood up without hesitation I have the certitude that his words touched all of us in the same way. And I felt then not only more alive but part of the human community.
For the French woman I still am this sense of communion means a lot. I still search for a definition of home but on Saturday night I felt I had reached a destination along my journey.
I am now sitting at my desk. Daffodils have bloomed while I was away. Snow is still dusting the peeks of the Sierras but quails are nesting underneath the rosemary bushes and soon their tiny babies will flutter all over my yard, hunting for seeds.
Spring is tiptoeing in the foothills, shy and yet bold and I feel the same way. I am looking forward to revising the novel I completed and the expectation leaves me hesitant and yet ebullient.

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