The American Library Association meets this week in New Orleans, a fact which floods me with memories. I have attended several ALA conferences – two in New Orleans – and they were always wonderful. The keynote speakers, the amazing exhibit hall, the autographing sessions, the Newbery banquet, the local food, and the ambiance of a great city kept me in a constant state of excitement which was heightened by meeting favorite editors and other authors, dining with publishers, and feeling solidly connected to the whole book industry. I remember watching thousands of eager librarians as they hurried to the convention center and thinking, We are all here because we love books. I have never felt more proud to be an author.
I miss conventions. I miss the opportunity to chat with librarians from all across the country, and to get to know the publisher’s new (for they change frequently) marketing staff, and to talk shop with my fellow writers. This is the hardest part of dealing with post-polio syndrome. It is no longer possible, even when I use a wheelchair, for me to enjoy that kind of travel.
Attending an ALA conference always infused me with creative energy. I would return home eager to pursue my next project, filled with dreams of the book that I’d sign at a future convention.
Those were magical years for me, and the magic of being an author continues. I read voraciously. My new book (Animals Welcome: A Life of Reading, Writing and Rescue) will be out next Summer. Secluded here in the forest, clear across the continent from the New Orleans Convention Center, I am still part of the community of book lovers.