Friday, January 6, 2012

Looking Back, Leaping Forward

A Look Back at 2011

2011 was a good year for me in many ways. Here are some of the highlights:

  • SCBWI RA retreat. Even though it was a cruise to the Bahamas, it was fun. I’m not big on the whole cruise scene, but the people we were with made it all wonderful. I enjoyed getting to know my colleagues better, learning their individual personalities, and feeling more connected to this group. Sea kayaking also topped the list.
  • Our own SCBWI conference in Boise. It was a fantastic conference with agent Jen Rofe, publisher Lori Benton, and author Carol Lynch Williams.
  • Attending Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers in Utah. AKA, the Carol conference. I took Ann Cannon’s boot camp class, and it was fantastic. We had an intense week of reading, writing, and revising. I respect my fellow class members and all were amazing writers. I learned so much, and I’m still revising that manuscript.
  • Camp Sawtooth. Senior high camp. Love these kids. Love the mountains. Love the food. (How many camps can you say that about?) This is a frenetic week of intense stuff, but always incredible. Teenagers are some of the most awesome people.
  • SCBWI LA conference. The 40th anniversary of SCBWI, an organization that has made many a children’s author/illustrator’s career. My favorite part: the round-table intensives. Again, learned a ton, and am still revising.
  • SCBWI Utah/southern Idaho novel revision retreat with Emma Dryden. I had so much fun meeting Emma and hanging out with her for a day before the retreat. She is one amazing lady. And she knows SO much. Wow. The retreat participants were also amazing writers and human beings. And the Stonefly Lodge: stunning.
  • Charleston, SC. I knew nothing about Charleston when I arrived. By the time I left, I had learned so much really interesting stuff. I never knew rice was one of the first crops grown on plantations. Fell in love with shrimp and grits. Love it. Will return.
  • My recorder pal, Pam Piper-Ruth, and I dedicated our year to learning to play the alto recorder, which is in a different key and has different fingerings than the soprano/tenor recorders. We have almost learned all the notes, and we are able to play altos with the larger group. That is affirming.
  • I decided to take bagpipe lessons. Hopefully, I will learn how to play well enough to get real bagpipes at some point.
  • I served meals to the needy in our community. This is a very gratifying thing to do. Not because it makes me feel important or superior. Quite the opposite. I know that it could very well be me standing in that line. These folks are fellow human beings, and their dignity is important.
  • Saw my old friend Jennifer Cochern for the first time in several years. Need to see more of her.

In short, this year involved a lot of travel to interesting places, lots of writing classes with very, very talented folks, and lots of learning for myself.

Probably the only thing that wasn’t great about this year for me was that my weight loss journey stalled in a big way. I’m still doing Weight Watchers, and I refuse to give up. But I didn’t lose any weight this year. (Well, I lost weight: the same five pounds over and over again.) Still, I am wearing clothes two sizes smaller than when I began this path, so I’m still hanging in there. I have Melissa to thank for being my cheerleader in this.

Looking Ahead to 2012

This has potential to be a big exciting year for me. I have hopes for some amazing things to happen.

  • I applied for the SCBWI Nevada mentorship program. I am anxious to find out if I got in. If so, it will be another intense year of perfecting my craft and learning from the best. If not, I will still be intensively perfecting my craft in some other fashion. Maybe a return to WIFYR.
  • I will turn 50 this year, and I’m planning a trip to my birthplace to celebrate. That would be Yosemite National Park. Yes, I was born IN the park. There was a hospital there at the time when my dad worked at the park. He was a National Park Service ranger, which is why we lived in so many interesting places. I am very excited to go, because I have absolutely no memory of the place, as I was two years old when we moved away.
  • If things line up, I will be dean of Camp Sawtooth Senior High Camp this year, and that makes me very excited. I go to sleep at night thinking about how much fun we will have. I have Gregory Taylor to thank for talking me into this adventure three years ago.
  • I am recommitting myself to myself. Specifically to getting back on the weight loss horse and continuing this journey. I want to be healthy, more fit, and disease free. And I will not give up. This is a landmark year for me, and I want to be as fit as possible when I hit Yosemite in September.
  • I’m looking forward to seeing what other things pan out. My freelance business is going well, my writing is going well, and I would like to start submitting to some agents again.
  • Maybe, just maybe (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) that oil money will start rolling in, and we’ll have enough money to fund all three kids’ college educations, fix up our rattletrap house, and give lots of it to very good causes. If you haven’t heard our oil money story, feel free to ask.

In short, I hope this year has as many rewarding writing experiences as last year, more weight loss that stays lost, and more opportunities to help others.

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