Sunday, July 12, 2009

Greetings from Southampton

I am not a morning person, but there's something about books that has always seemed to motivate me enough to get up before sunrise. As I kid, I would sneak into the living room and read, then sneak back into bed before my parents came to wake me for school. And there's something about sitting down to work while the morning hours are still in the single digits that makes me feel especially productive. Today is no exception.

This morning I am writing from the Stony Brook campus in Southampton, where I have been attending the Southampton Children's Literature Conference. Some highlights:

*Norton Juster of Phantom Tollbooth fame spoke, then signed books. He wins the prize for writing the funniest inscription of any signed book I own.

*Daily Workshops with Tor Seidler, where I discovered that the novel I had set aside is, indeed, not hopeless.

*Marketing Talk by Emma Walton Hamilton, who wins the prize for talking about the publishing process and not scaring me half to death!

*Research Talk by Catherine Creedon, wherein I learned that Wikipedia is not the scourge of research resources, but a perfectly good research tool, if used properly.

and, of course...

*Julie Andrews, reading from the new anthology of poetry, which she compiled together with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton. She talked about her father and how he memorized poems so that when he walked alone he would never be lonely. I was reminded of my seventh grade English teacher who insisted we memorize several passages from Shakespeare so that if we were ever stranded on a deserted isle, we could recite them and not be bored. Somehow, I have a feeling if I were stranded on a desert island, being bored would be the least of my problems. I like Julie Andrews' reasoning better and I the idea of keeping poems as good friends.

Speaking of friends, that was perhaps the best part of this conference. In just five days, I met many talented writers and fellow conference attendees who I am honored now to call my friends. As the conference comes to a close, I look forward to continuing these friendships and someday seeing all our names in print.