Part One: My Highlights Experience


Here’s the thing, Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Highlights Children’s Writers Workshop. And what’s the first thing I do? I drop my dental floss into the toilet. I stood there looking at it. I figured if that’s the only thing I drop into the toilet this week I’m in good shape. So I fished it out and deposited it into the trashcan and finished unpacking. Well, unpacking for me anyway. I pretty much lived out of my suitcase. Then I went to explore this new world. This other dimension I had entered.
Scattered cottages, a big huge barn, miles of walkways and pathways and trails, trees and sky as far as the eye can see. Plenty of coffee, tea, chips and chocolate. No shortage of sodas and beer and wine. And best of all a roomful of kindred spirits, hearts and minds all moving in the same direction, toward a singular goal, yet diverse and personal.
My little fairy cabin
Sound like paradise? Well yes, frankly it was. I spent a week in paradise in the company of writers.  The other conferees, Liesbeth who came from New Zealand, Becky who traveled from Singapore. Singapore! Tom, Stacey, Bee and Kate were incredibly talented and enthusiastic both for their work and each others’. Our fearless leaders were Janet Lisle, a Newbery author, Kathy Erskine who has won the National Book Award, Rich Wallace an amazing writer and winner of numerous awards and my mentor for the week—world renown editor Patti Gauch. You know what? It just doesn’t get better than this.
Our first night was a get to know you kind of evening and it didn’t take long before we had all bonded and melded together as a group. There was no need for little games and exercises. Camaraderie just happened. Mutual respect and care and joy just happened. I felt my shoulders relax and my intestines unclench and my heart rate slow as I sat among these folks swapping stories and dreams and successes and failures. By 9:00 that night I knew I was in the company of friends, a Charlotte’s Web of friends.

Monday Morning: I made a terrible discovery. Now I apologize of this next part makes some of you squeamish but it must be told. I’m sure a number of you women will understand—totally! I showered and dressed and then saw that I had forgotten my Poise pads—that’s right, at my age and having birthed three babies I can’t live without them. I can’t sneeze without them. I can’t laugh or walk or run or stretch without them. Well, mostly it’s the sneezing and I was doing plenty of that.  And of course being miles and miles from anything that even smacked of a town or city I felt as though I had dropped my guts in the toilet. Now what? This particular pickle would make the week not impossible but I knew it would make me nervous and perhaps even embarrassed. So I sucked it up and went to inquire about what to do. I asked one of the kitchen ladies. Wow. She jumped right on the problem, they called in an order to the local supplier and within an hour I had not one but TWO packages waiting for me in the kitchen. Now that my dears is going above and beyond. Thank you Sandy and Martha and Jo for saving me and my dignity.

Then we got to work. Tune in tomorrow and I will tell you what it was like to work with Patti Lee Gauch who by the way was the editor for some of the best writers in the world including Tasha Tudor, Brian Jacques, Janet Lisle etc.

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