Dear Sunday Letter friends,
Greetings from Overland Park, Kansas, a place I’ve not visited in twenty years, not since I had a different life. On Thursday, my friend Gail and I drove up for the Johnson County Writers Conference, a two-day event held at the Johnson County Public Library. If gold stars were handed out for writer conferences, I’d give this one five shiny ones. I leave inspired, encouraged, filled with so many ideas to implement, websites to visit, and word loops to study that I can barely concentrate on penning this Sunday Letter…
The thing about roads trips and writer conferences— the best ones shove me out of my routine and fling open my mind.
I didn’t realize how much creative shoving and flinging I needed.
Two Important Things
Before the trip to Kansas, I accomplished two important things. I got a flu shot, and I early voted. Because I did these things back-to-back, I began to compare them as one does.
Right off I noted two similarities: 1) Failure to do either can make a person sick. 2) Neither takes much time or effort.
Of course getting a flu shot doesn’t preclude you from falling ill next month any more than casting a vote will bring the immediate change you seek. But short of never leaving home and sticking your head in the sand, these are the only options I know for arming yourself and claiming responsibility.
Imagine if the flu shot didn’t exist. Or, what if a deadly weaponized super flu bug came along and no viable immunization existed? What if Congress decided voting should be reserved for those of a certain income level? Or voting came with a “use it or lose it” test? You didn’t vote in the last election? Sorry, you have to sit this one out.
If you are paying attention and read Stephen King, you’ll consider this a friendly, patriotic reminder to do both this week.
Red, Yellow, Black, and White
I realize not everyone grew up singing Jesus Loves the Little Children from hard wooden church pews. But I did, and lately that song has been on my mind when I look at the trees.
Red and yellow, black, and white, they are precious in his sight…
No, the trees aren’t black and white per se, but they glow with ALL the colors right now. And this fall in particular they continue to amaze me, from northwest Arkansas through western Missouri and into Kansas.
During our drive to the Jayhawk state, I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to pull over and take pictures of the trees. I resisted (mostly because it was raining). But had I stopped for all the trees that called to me, Gail and I would have missed the entire first day of the conference.
Turns out, a stunning snapshot awaited from my hotel room window. There they were, a whole congregation of trees gathered outside my window, whispering among themselves, telling tree secrets, singing into the chilly November air. Even with the reflection of light bouncing off the glass, they posed quite nicely.
Red and yellow, black and white…
I’m Not a Stalker. I Swear.
The truth is I came to the Johnson County Writer Conference mainly because Kathleen Rooney, author of Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk, was a speaker. Of all the books I read in 2017, Lillian Boxfish was one of my favorites. I reviewed the book on my blog HERE (and I’ll be reviewing it in this year’s holiday issue of Delta Crossroads).
Not only did I get to meet Kathleen this weekend, I attended three of her writing sessions on short stories, agent relationships, and literary citizenship. This was a bonus I didn’t anticipate.
My personal belief is this: if you love a book, you should tell all your friends, write a review for heaven’s sake, tell the author if you get a chance. This writing thing is crazy difficult. It’s the least we can do as readers.
My First Zine
One more thing I’ll say about this weekend—I learned about zines and even made my first one.
If you don’t know what a zine is, you aren’t alone. I signed up for a zine class because I had no idea what it was. Rhymes with vine so I thought plants might be involved?
Yeah, no. It doesn’t rhyme with vine. It’s pronounced like zeen. As in magazine. And I know some of my artsy friends will be super interested in this. (Pop-up class at my house? I’m looking at you—Laurie, Sarah, Gina, who else?)
Basically a zine is super small, hand-made book or magazine. It’s a crafty thing (which I love) and yet another reason to never-ever-ever throw away a scrap of paper. (I love that, too). Creativity is surprising and unpredictable, the way one idea sparks another and another like a length of firecrackers.
But not as loud.
What Momma Said (about Halloween)
I’m going to turn off my light, get in bed, and eat all my candy…
Before I go…
Today marks the end of daylight saving time for most of these United States. If you don’t have a smart phone that automatically sets your clock back, don’t forget to do that. Once upon a time when my daughter was a toddler and I was crazy harried, I completely forgot about it. I woke, dressed for work, drove her to day care, and arrived to an empty, still dark parking lot before the awful realization hit me. I could have slept an extra hour.
I’m not sure I ever got that hour back. But last night, I made a dent in it.
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.
P.S. Coming this week: Books I Read in October!
Indigo Girls, Closer to Fine