This is not the post I was going to write today.
Before I sat down on the dock at Gull Lake with my parents and children and aunts and grandma, I was going to write about last weekend’s events.
I was going to tell you about the amazing experience I had as a new writer at the NJ Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (NJ SCBWI) annual conference.
I planned to tell you that, by combining what I learned in workshops by author/educator Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and author Ame Dyckman, I am now prepared to write a picture book with a negative word count. (That’s right, you get done reading it and you OWE me words. It’s brilliant.)
I was going to say how charmed I was by the faculty, especially Quinlan Lee of Adams Literary, Susan Hawk of The Bent Agency, and Julie Matysik of Sky Pony Press. Not having been to a conference before, I did not realize until I was told by veteran attendees how rare and wonderful it is to have the kind of personal contact and access to agents and editors that the New Jersey conference provides. Once I got past my jitters, I truly enjoyed lunching, chatting and rubbing elbows with the movers and shakers of the children’s book world.
There’s more I was going to say…and I’ll say it all in an upcoming post – but spending the 4th of July on the lake where I spent so many childhood summers brought to mind other things.
More and more as I look at photo albums and talk about past adventures with my children, I realize how much of their memories are formed not just by events, but by re-tellings of events. They remember the stories as vividly as the actual occurrences. And as I sat on the dock with my aunts and uncles and family around me, I realized how I became a storyteller.
I come from a long line of storytellers.
My goodness, how we love to tell stories in my family!
Stories we’ve heard a thousand times but linger over for their sweetness, for the connection they give us to loved ones gone on.
Stories of epic battles between cousins and siblings. (I recall the great Boys vs Girls Acorn War in great detail!)
Stories of food and drinks and parties and holidays.
Stories of guardian angels and signs from above.
Oh, and we just love to take everyone’s most embarrassing and awkward moments and celebrate them in myth and legend.
There are stories we tell where everyone joins in to recite a punch line in chorus – with a chorus of laughter to follow.
Throughout the year (and years), we are apart much more than we are together. A family spread across states and time zones and generations. But when we get together on the dock of the lake, fueled by chips and dip and watermelon, by sunshine and beer and memory, connected by blood and birth and marriage and by STORY, it is as if nothing separates us.
I am a product of a family of storytellers.
It is no wonder I am driven to write, and no wonder that writing makes me feel so at home.
Happy 4th of July – I hope you spent it with family, or at least in a place that makes you feel at home!