A collection of colorful bags and pieces of luggage grows beside me. Today's the day I take TG back to campus to start the spring semester. Wasn't it just a few days ago that we carried all of those bags down from the car?
Christmas break went by so fast. At the beginning of it I had two kids at home; soon it will be just me and Tom again. Sweet, yet bittersweet.
Sweet because, luckily, Tom and I enjoy being together - we easily fall back into our pre-kids selves. Bittersweet because I enjoy having the kids around, too, and not only for all the help they give us with dishes, dog care, laundry... although I do miss that, too.
This might have been the last long break TG spends with us. By this time next year, she'll be living in an apartment, probably working near campus through the break, coming home for a weekend every now and then. Sigh.
I'll take it a semester at a time, though, and right now I just pray this one will be the best ever for her.
Well, while I wait for her to finish packing, I'll tell you a little about my day yesterday, spent in the World of Writers.
I finally made it to a meeting of the Austin Chapter of the SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writer's and Illustrators) held at BookPeople, a wonderful independent book store in downtown Austin. I don't think I've every met a friendlier group of strangers in my life - the support and encouragement was palpable!
I sat in the only open chair I spotted, After introductions, I discovered the woman beside me, as well as the two directly behind me, all live just a few miles from me and are eager to form a writer's critique group.Talk about serendipity!
The first session of the meeting was a presentation by author Brian Yansky on plot, character and structure of your story. Some of it was knew to me... some I already know but don't necessarily put into practice... and that's why I need reminders like this, especially from successful authors who are willing to share what has worked for them. Judging by the others who were scribbling notes, I'm not the only one!
Next, a few of us went to the third floor for the open critique group... the part I had been most eager for! I passed out copies of my first two pages, cleared my throat, took a deep breath and read out loud while they followed along.
When I finished, I could see they were hesitant, not sure if I wanted brutal honesty or encouraging pats-on-the-back.
"Rip it apart!" I told them. I've read too many books lately that began with seeds of great stories, but because of neglected pruning, had grown into huge distracting messes. I don't want mine to end up that way!
So with my blessing they ripped it apart, so to speak. Some of what they mentioned I had already wondered about myself, but needed another opinion... which is why I was eager for the critique group. Other things were surprises, and so even more helpful.
A critique can be painful if you take it personally, but I look at it as a really good workout... tough to get through but so invigorating and energizing when it's all over... and the only way to get stronger.
We took turns reading and critiquing, everyone offering concrete constructive comments. Writer heaven!
After a quick break (I walked to Whole Foods and enjoyed a cup of tomato basil soup at a small table outside, great for people-watching!) we gathered on the third floor again. Two of the members had attended a recent Story Masters Workshop where they took pages and pages of notes, all of which they shared with us.
Spending a day with such a great group of talented writers (many published authors in the group) who encourage and support each other... very sweet!
And now for some other sweet! moments of the past week...
Monday: a fire in the woodburning stove on a cold, rainy day; cedar pollen that's been attacking your nose and making you want to scratch our your eyes washed from the air by the rain; finally meeting a previously only 'online' friend in person; loose ends neatly tied up; joining a writer's group, at long last, to help you with your book
Tuesday: the moment when dark clouds break apart to reveal blue sky; frogs singing in the distance, grateful for the recent rain; watching "The 10th Kingdom" with your daughter; cell phones that allow you to talk to your mom and your dear friend, despite the miles between you
Wednesday: $300 worth of free jewelry, thanks to your party!; a Post of the Week award from Hilary for one of your photography posts; that sparkling-clean-teeth feeling you get after a trip to the dentist; a jingle-jangle in your pocket for stuff you didn't want anymore anyway
Thursday: getting word that a sweet kid you know was found before you even knew he was missing; scratching things off of your list; finally fulfilling a months-old promise to a friend
Friday: a "Happy Anniversary" first thing in the morning from you sweetie before you even realize it's Friday the 13th; puppies stretched out comfy and warm on the laundry room floor on a below-freezing morning; shopping with your baby girl; getting $17 for from a local resale shop for things you were going to toss out; any Ryan Reynolds movie
Saturday: a day spent with writers; getting honest feedback and suggestions on your children's book-in-progress; tomato and basil soup outdoors on a gorgeous day; a walk at dusk beside a running brook; home-brewed beer; watching Harry Potter movies with your daughter
Sunday: a friend thinking of you when a job comes open; watching more Harry Potter movies with your daughter; a call from your mom
What were some of your sweet! moments in the past week? (I know you can come up with at least one!) Please share them here!