Monday, November 9, 2009
Connecting with Colleagues
Every two years, a group of dedicated teachers and librarians, some retired, bring about 20 authors to the Eureka, California, area to join some local authors in The Author Festival, when we make presentions to area schools and offer books for sale at the library.
On one day I visited Trinity Valley School, out in the countryside, a place that doesn't get that many outside visitors. The children created this poster to welcome me. It's always great for children to meet "real" authors; it gives them a deeper appreciation of books and sends them right to the library shelves.
Those of us who participate always enjoy the various events, but one especially rewarding aspect of our days there is the time we have to connect with one another. Some people call writing a lonely profession; I prefer to say we are alone when we write, not lonely. In either case, many of us have little opportunity for contact with other authors. We may belong to critique groups, which can provide regular interaction with a very limited group of colleagues. Events like the Author Festival give us a chance not only to catch up on personal lives but also to learn of possibilities for our own careers--publishers that are still bullish on nonfiction books, for example, or a new way of connecting with our readers.
This year, I learned that the practice of video presentations by way of skyping and iChat is already being utilized by some authors instead of physical school visits involving energy-inefficient airplane travel, costly hotel stays, and so forth. Living in my own 'shell' in Montana, I didn't realize that this distant-learning kind of work that our INKTHINKTANK company is jumping into already has its pioneers. This realization only increased my excitement about what we're launching, creating an "everybody wins" situation among authors, schools, librarians, and teachers.