Just like the nesting that comes before birthing a baby, I hunkered in this past fall and into winter, and got ready for the big push. I worked steadily on book two of the sixties trilogy until I flew off to Singapore, mid-January, to work with 7th-graders and their teachers at Singapore American School, and to speak at a children's lit conference there.
The novel flew with me. I did a final read-through, high in the sky, and during the first three days of the time in Singapore, then clicked "send" and off it went to Scholastic. It's missing the last chapter, although I have it sketched out. There are small moving parts still missing, as well, in this documentary novel, but most of it is done. The story arc is known. The characters have played their parts, and so have I.
I've been quiet, recovering from the four-month daily push at the page, all day, every day, Jim having to help me out of the pink chair by the fire when I've been there so long I'm molded to the chair. The way I finish a novel is ridiculous, I suppose, but it's what I do. It feels good to have it done. Now I'm waiting for revision notes.
In the meantime, a no-knead, crusty, yeasty bread, you can find here. It's the perfect Hallelujah, Mississippi to welcome a newborn story into the world. Serve warm, with lots of butter.
Also went on retreat in October. This is our seventeenth year meeting in October to write and read and cook and eat and gossip and share our work in the evenings with one another. We've grown from a few books between us to many.
Our books have won a Caldecott, been National Book Award finalists, New York Times bestsellers, unsold gems, and little loves we have nurtured as we've watched them make their ways in the world. Likewise, we have mourned some of them as we've watched them go out of print. We've celebrated every scrap of success along the way.
We write picture books, board books, early readers, middle grade fiction, non-fiction, young adult fiction, poetry -- we run the gamut. But our biggest, most important boast is our long friendship.
We are moms, grandmas, wives, single women, main/sole breadwinners, artists, dreamers, business women. As we've grown older together in these 17 years, we've had our hearts broken apart from time to time, and we've each soared to the heights. We've held each other's hands and whispered our secrets. We've laughed so hard our sides have hurt. We've cried in one another's arms.
We've birthed dozens of stories. Many have made their way into the world to young readers. Many more are being born. I've listened to the heartbeats of these stories, through the stethoscope of nightly readings, in October. They are strong, true stories that will change the world. We are strong, true women who have changed one another.