Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Coincidences and Katherine Paterson

The world is a funny place. I sat down with my breakfast this morning and a book I’d just pulled off the shelf. I wanted something different than the thriller mystery I’m currently in the middle of (I’m not so keen on eating a poached egg while reading the description of a three-day old murdered man). When I skimmed my bookshelf for something to fit my mood, my eyes landed on The Invisible Child by Katherine Paterson. I finished my egg about two pages into one essay, but I sat there to read on, finished that essay and then read two more. When I closed the book it was amazing to me how much I felt like I’d just been in her presence. I don’t know how her voice sounds in reality, but I could hear her talking to me as I read, as clearly as if I’d been sitting in an auditorium with her spellbound by her thoughts and stories. I headed upstairs to get to my work, marveling over how writing can do that--transport a person into your kitchen so you’ve felt like you’ve spent time with them (while they have meanwhile been vacuuming, or checking their pantry to see if they need more chicken stock as they draft their grocery list, or some other activity that keeps them occupied and completely oblivious to the time they’ve also just spent with you in your kitchen). I resolved to read more of her books and then redirected my focus to my day and my To Do list, stopping first to check my email. And there in the subject line of the first new email waiting for me was the name Katherine Paterson.

How weird is that? It is totally mind-bending to me when coincidences like that happen. I think, “I should call my mother” and then the phone rings and it’s my mother. Her book wasn’t even the book I had in mind when I went to my bookcase, but the blue spine of The Invisible Child winked at me and I couldn’t resist.

Since typing this, I’ve had two more emails come in with Katherine Paterson as the subject, the reason being she was named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature this morning, succeeding Jon Scieszka. An excellent choice I think. Having freshly finished those essays, I’m especially curious to see what she does over the next two years.

Switching gears a bit, I’d like to thank the handful of you who have continued to check in over here on my little patch of internet. This blog has been neglected for sure, but it wasn’t forgotten or abandoned. Since my last post many months ago, I’ve half-drafted about a dozen posts but never finished any for various reasons. I’ll just say, 2009 was a challenging year for me. Emotionally turbulent, is the best way I can think to summarize it. It’s the type of year that I can now see might be one I look back on in a decade’s time as being pivotal, although that never occurred to me in my present day-to-day as I was going through the year. It was just a year of hurdle after hurdle, and just when you think you’ve leaped over the biggest one and are finished with the hurdles for awhile, you run smack into the next and land on your a**.

So, sincerely, thank you to those of you who have come back to check in. Your interest has been motivating and uplifting. I do have plans for future posts, some ideas I’d like to pursue for interviews with writers, and an inclination to spruce up the place around here a bit, so please keep coming back.

11 comments:

  1. I love that kind of coincidence; it's like everyday magic. I don't think I've read that collection of Paterson's essays, but her essay in Worlds of Childhood: The Art and Craft of Writing for Children, is one of my favorites.

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  2. That serendipity or cosmic force or whatever you want to call it is wonderful, isn't it? And doesn't it seem to come in waves? I think you'll be getting more of these incidents, Jenn. And I'm hoping that 2010 is a much easier year for you. I can really relate to the struggles of 2009. Here's to a year of beautiful coincidences!

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  3. Anamaria, I'll have to look into that one! Thanks for mentioning it. And Kathy, a year of beautiful coincidences sounds wonderful. I hope we both have a much easier 2010. :)

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  4. I thought I was the only breakfast reader! Your coincidence is crazy and wonderful at the same time (as are most, don't you think?) Best of luck to you in your writing endeavers--I'll be on the look out for your book to add to my classroom shelf!

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  5. sometimes the universe leads us in the most interesting directions.

    Raising a glass to a bright and cheery 2010 :D

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  6. It may be coincidence - but it seems that once you become aware of something, you start seeing references to it everywhere. Thank you for visiting my blog as well -it's great to be part of this online kidlit community. I'm glad you like my interviews with young readers. Happy 2010.

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  7. Paterson is definitely one of my favorite writers. I have read so many of her books and always find them surprising and well-written. I read Bridge to Terabithia to my son when he was in 4th grade (he is 26 now) and blubbered like a baby for several pages as I read aloud. When a book can do that you know that you have been transported into a magical realm. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  8. I'm trying to expand my knowledge of kidlit so thanks!

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  9. The Invisible Child is one of my most favorite books -- maybe more for me as a mom than a writer. I love the story she tells about someone coming up to her and thanking her for writing Bridge to Terebithia, because their child's best friend died and it helped. She said, by then, it's too late. The book should come BEFORE the awful event, so that it can help prepare a person. It's such a great argument for reading all sorts of books. As preparation for the world.

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  10. I keep reading posts from people who bemoan the whole experience of 2009. That's not a criticism, just noting a theme as a way to say that you're not alone.

    Also. Katherine Paterson is indeed wonderful. Didn't realize that she wrote essays, but now you have me very curious indeed.

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  11. I've been fortunate enough to hear Katherine Paterson speak twice. She is graceful, unassuming, and wise.

    Last year, I entered Hunger Mountain's KP contest just so she could read my work!

    Just purchased A SENSE OF WONDER to read more on what she has to say about writing for children.

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