Saturday, April 17, 2010
Late last night (or was it early this morning?), I returned from my whirlwind trip to Appleton, Wisconsin, where I met with avid adult readers, talked to school assemblies, workshopped with young writers, answered the questions of artful high schoolers, and conducted two intensive memoir-writing workshops with truly dear and talented adults. It was an experience like none other—immaculately coordinated by Judith Owen and carried forward by a team of prompt, thoroughly generous souls including Beth Carpenter, Pat Wucki, Pat Milheiser, Maggie Waggoner, Donna Young, Amy Stanwood, and Mary Bend.
What struck me most deeply was the utter preparedness of this team, for I was but one of dozens of authors who were visiting on behalf of the Fox Cities Book Festival last week. Ted Kooser and Mary Karr were in town, David Wroblewski and Jane Hamilton, Kim Edwards and Lesley Kagan, Chris Crutcher and Gennifer Choldenko. Up and down the river and out, into the farmlands, we authors were ferried, and wherever I went, I encountered people I won't soon forget. There are real readers out there, in Fox Cities. There are librarians and teachers who love their students and prepare them for life's greater possibilities. There are young readers and writers—boys and girls—who sit peaceably, attentively, while a writer talks, then surprises her, enormously, with the quality and enthusiasm of their questions.
I am not a touring writer, not typically. I made the choice to go to Wisconsin nearly a year ago, and I will be forever grateful that I did.