I don't know of anyone who appreciates a trip out for any kind of professional event as much as I do. I mean, any kind of event at all.
Today I went to what I guess I'd describe as an author luncheon/book talk at Bank Square Books in Mystic, Connecticut. Yeah, it's located at the corner after Mystic Pizza. Oh, my goodness! If you look at the store's page Author Events, you'll see a photo entitled "A store full of children's authors and illustrators." That's me right in front. Sigh. I think I've lost one of those bracelets. And it belonged to Grandma Gauthier, too. My father gave it to her. How awful is that?
Well, let's think about pleasanter things, shall we?
The author I had lunch with today was Dawn Tripp, and the book she has just published is Game of Secrets. I had never heard of Dawn before last week. I found out she was going to be at Bank Square Books because I'm on the store's e-mail list. I've been wanting to hit one of its author lunch events, Game of Secrets sounded interesting, and this week worked for me because by last night I was paragraphs...paragraphs, I tell you...from the end of a complete draft of The Fletcher Farm Body.
Clearly, this was one of those deals in which I was called to be in that store with that author. Dawn Tripp can speak about what she does in an informal situation with great ease and eloquence. Perhaps this is because she has experience teaching writing. I just know I would have been frantic in her situation because I didn't have a PowerPoint presentation with me.
What was so wonderful about hearing Dawn talk about her writing process was that she writes in a more leisurely manner than many of the writers I read about or hear speak. Perhaps it's because she comes from a more literary tradition or because she writes for adults. I do not know. I just know that she took five years on this book. It's not unheard of for her to stop working on a project for a month during which time she reads. She doesn't work through to the end of a draft without revising. She talked about sometimes starting with fragments, some of which she puts together, rather than with...I don't know...without whatever your strong plotting writers do. I can't even imagine what they do.
She was able to talk about a couple of different kinds of structure and give the name of an author who discusses them, which gives me something to look for and try to study.
I can't tell you how wonderful it is to be in the same room with another writer who doesn't work through to the end of a draft without revising. I keep reading and hearing that that's what writers ought to be doing. I can't. And while I'm accustomed to the outsider thing and even, to be perfectly honest, relish feeling a bit of a literary outsider, there's being an outsider and there's being someone who's working all wrong. I often worry that I'm more the latter than the former.
Today, not so much.
The lunch was good, too. I discovered very recently that wine goes really well with sandwiches. So there I was with a little wine, a sandwich, and this marvelous speaker just feet from me. Then I listened to Springsteen all the way there and back.
And then I got home and worked some more on that last chapter. Now I am just sentences...sentences, I tell you...from the end of that draft.