For Christmas many years ago, my aunt gave me a small flat package wrapped in red foil paper. Inside was a story my grandmother had written for a school assignment back in 1914 when she just 14 years old. My aunt gifted me this treasure because I was the writer in the family, and she often commented that I had inherited Grandma Meachen’s creative genes.
When I enter a bookstore or gift store, I’m immediately drawn to the journals. They come in all shapes and sizes, lined and unlined, covers for every taste: flowered, funky, silly, or serene. Slick, soft, leather, marbled, gilded, and more. I’ve purchased many journals in my life. To me, they represent expansive possibility. I line them up on my shelf and admire the beauty of their eclectic spines. They make me feel like a writer.
Recently cleaning out our childhood home, my family uncovered lots of treasures. We sold off some in a tag sale, which was dominated by tables and tables of books. But some books I held on to—especially the well-worn ones my brother and I had most enjoyed. What struck me as I flipped the pages of these long-forgotten stories was that my brother and I experienced them in different ways. He is blind, so he never read the words or soaked in the pictures like I did. He used senses other than sight to absorb stories—and to navigate the world.
After teaching classes at the University of Hartford last week, I ventured home. I wasn’t looking forward to the commute at rush hour through the grid of West Hartford streets with a stoplight at every block. One saving grace: it was a gorgeous start-of-autumn day. I opened the windows to let in the crisp clean air.
166 eyes stare at me from my home office wall. I’m not delusional. It’s nothing creepy. Our house isn’t haunted. It’s my family’s POP collection.
POPS are plastic figures of pop culture characters from movies, television, music, and games. And since 2014, my family has collected them. Sometimes they distract me from my work…like today…as I brainstorm the role they play in my life.
I have a new idea for a story, and it’s deeply steeped in art. This week, I’ve been diving into research. Way back when (25 years ago), I graduated from Trinity College, Hartford, with a double major in creative writing and art history. Over my career, I’ve obviously put the creative writing part to good use, but I haven’t exercised my art history muscles in a while.
I spent last weekend at the New England Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference (NE-SCBWI) in Springfield, Massachusetts. I was lucky enough to be chosen to present two workshops, but along with shuffling my papers on the podium and hoping my Power Point would work, I was able to sit in on many other workshops as well. And as always, I came away with tons of tidbits to apply to my own writing projects.
Last fall, I became a college professor. That’s part of the reason this blog was rather quiet for a while. From September to December, I was fully immersed in studying required texts, drafting lectures, making tests, and reading papers. I’ll never know which lessons stuck with my students. But I do know one thing for sure. I learned a TON!