Sunday, June 19, 2016

Thurber House: Day Zero

Today is the day! I'm standing with my laptop propped in a windowsill overlooking the runway of the
Birmingham International Airport, drinking a Mocha-Not-Sure-This-Is-Light Frappuccino I certainly don't need and waiting to board the first leg of a flight that will take me to Columbus, Ohio. When I arrive, I'll be heading to Thurber House and starting my month-long sojourn as the 2016 Children's Writer-in-Residence.

While there, I'll be living in the third floor of the historic building, teaching up to ten hours a week of writing workshops to kids in a variety of programs across Columbus (including Thurber House's writing camps), exploring the city of Columbus, and enjoying the longest sustained period of writing seclusion I've ever had in my life.

It's going to be "an experience" from all kinds of angles. First, I've never left my family for so long (my daughter cried all the way to the airport, expressing the hope that they wouldn't let me in when I got there and I'd have to come back). Two, I'll be teaching some new workshop material I've never used before. Three, I've never had such an uninterrupted period to emerge myself totally in my work before. Four, it occurred to me the other day that a month is a lot longer to be in a place than just a vacation or visit. Columbus will join the lists of places I've actually lived. (I know that's a nebulous, subjective thing, but I figure when you are shopping for groceries, doing laundry, and cleaning your own bathroom, that counts as living there.) Of, and the house is reported haunted! (I don't believe in ghosts, but if there are any, I sure hope they like David Bowie.) I've already spotted a brewery that serves dinner about ten minutes walk to the west of me and a craft beer store two minutes to the southeast, so, you know, while I did forget my toothpaste, I've got the essentials covered.

Another thing that's going to be interesting. The plan was for me to finish a first draft of the current project two months ago and spend the time between then and now outlining something new. Instead, life got in the way and I only wrote "The End" earlier this week. And it was a very rough "The End." Meaning there is a LOT of rewriting and restructuring to do before anyone else can see it. But I really want to use this opportunity to write something else and produce two manuscripts this year. So while I'm polishing the previous project, I'll also be working on a new one. And where it usually takes me one to two months to outline my stories, I'll have to condense the outlining into the first few days I'm there or the time will be wasted!

So, Lou's got to plot and write faster than he ever has before, while making the previous manuscript shine, while living alone, without his family (who I'll miss terribly), in a potentially haunted house in a city I've never visited before.

I'll be making daily or near daily reports here on this blog and blabbing on social media. Feel free to comment, and if you are in or around Columbus, come by! They'll be selling my books the entire time I'm there, with several signing opportunities. And I know where the beer is!

(Oh, and the Frappuccino was a distraction to take my mind off the TSA guy who set my tennis shoes, soles down, on top of my laptop's sleeve. I had set my laptop on its sleeve so it didn't have to sit on the filthy bottom of those plastic bins. He moves my laptop to another bin and then puts my shoes on top of my case! Gross! Gross! Gross!)

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