To travel (anywhere) unencumbered by small children is extraordinary: outside the normal, different from the daily. To travel knowing those small children are tracking each mile and fascinated by each hotel room and proud of each presentation is pure joy. J and the boys wave long goodbyes and hug long welcome-backs. In between, I immerse in my writing life. To and from Maine, I listened to Small Animals by Kim Brooks. Highly recommend.
After an overnight with my close friend Sarah Twombly in Bangor, she and I drove down to Lewiston for Local Writers Read, a series run by Josh Gauthier and Claire Guyton and hosted by the gracious Courtney Schlachter in her inviting space, Quiet City Books. Cheryl Wilder flew up from North Carolina too, and we, the only two non-local writers, were warmly embraced.
Saturday morning, Claire, Cheryl, and I gave—through readings and discussion—our answer to the question why write a book? We did this in a setting so lovely, and so removed from my regular life, it might have been a daydream. The Foss Mansion in Auburn is kept up by hardworking current members of the 127-year-old Woman’s Literary Union of Androscoggin County. Tea and sugar cubes and banana cake and antique china, leaded glass and crystal chandeliers and tassel lamp shades, a sweeping staircase and a butler’s pantry and a tiled solarium. We learned Eleanor Roosevelt was once a guest.
Saturday afternoon, I joined Catharine Murray, author of Now You See the Sky, to speak about loss and memory, read from our books, and have what turned out to be an easy and engaging back-and-forth about writing memoir. I just finished Catharine’s book and consider it a must-read for both parents struggling to move through the loss of a child and memoirists considering how to shape something smart and beautiful from what tragedy leaves behind.
A huge and pleasant surprise was a teaching colleague and friend, Hilary, whom I haven’t seen in 15 years. She moved just weeks ago to the area, saw a notice about the event, and came! Another sweet surprise: after the event, I found that an audience member had left homemade cranberry date bars for me and Catharine.
I’ve been carting a tri-fold board around with me, asking attendees to mark the age of their earliest memory. Our collaborative bar graph is growing!