As much of the country experiences unseasonable cold, it’s 80 degrees and climbing in Western Kentucky. The sun is out, but rain clouds keep sneaking across the blue sky. They’re trying to gather in the corners and get organized. I expect it’ll be pouring by this afternoon.
I’m seven weeks post left knee replacement, and thankfully, the whole surgical experience is beginning to feel like a distant memory. I want it even more distant, and I want my physical and emotional reserves to come back online. I want that yesterday. I want a long stretch of just being able to live, without thinking about how I get out of a chair, how I walk, whether or not I’ll be able to sleep, and my overall health. The thing is, that level of improvement takes time. It takes time, and rest, and restoration, and increasing distance from the event–without new events intruding to drain down the strength and resistance I’ve been able to build.
This week, I’ve been pondering extending this metaphor to our national consciousness as we grapple with the politics of inclusion and exclusion, institutionalized racism and discrimination, and letting go of what “always has been” in favor of what could be, and perhaps what should be. With the 24-hour (30-second, it seems) news cycle, the internet, and social media, many people–especially people on the front lines–never have the time time to rest and restore. There is always another situation occurring, another injustice to address, another assault, another attack. The people being attacked never have the luxury of letting down their guard. They never have the space to breathe.
With this in mind, I have a new mission in my writing, amongst all the others I’ve developed over the years of tapping keys and weaving tales. I want to create books that give people–all people–that space to breathe. I want people who need respite to be able to lose themselves in my stories for five minutes, for one hour, for a few days–for however long they can, however long they need.
I think we as children’s writers, can play a key role in provoking quiet thought, in suppporting positive change, and in illuminating peaceful paths to both rest and restoration.
I heard about Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy earning a JLG selection nod back in January, but I had no idea it came with a beautiful pin and frame-worthy certificate, not to mention a delightful letter. Props to Jennifer Black Reinhardt, the awesome illustrator, and a big thank you to my Simon and Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books editor Sylvie Frank, and my agent Erin Murphy.
I love writing Middle Grade fiction!
But when I do, I have company!
This is the view up and to the left of the recliner on the back porch, where I’m writing despite piles of melting snow in every direction. My friend the peacock is making sure I stay on task by occasionally letting loose with a bunch of spring hollering.
“Hollering” is a good ole Southern word. My most recent book, Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy, has a lot of those. Check out Rebecca Van Slyke’s post about favorite Southern expressions over at Emu’s Debuts:
Behold, Susan Vaught, Coe Booth, Jason Reynolds, and John Green stunning Indianapolis with our collective writerly brilliance as we utterly fail to take a selfie with an iPad.
Couldn’t ask for better dinner companions or conversation, especially when I am a refugee from Kentucky, which is completely buried in snow.
And, Ben Davis High School is still totally awesome. It was wonderful to meet each and every student, teacher, and librarian I got to talk to today!