Yesterday I visited by phone with Judy Thompson, Executive Vice President of Development and Campaign Director at Drury University. Judy has been a friend from all the way back to our days as Drury students. She was Sandy’s pledge daughter in Zeta Tau Alpha sorority. Coming up shortly is a major fund raiser Drury is calling Match Madness so Judy and her team are hard at work planning ways to engage alums and others who might contribute toward the campaign. The request for my help was to film me reading one of my books. Since I’m currently too far away to go to the Drury recording studios, I agreed to make a video and send it to them. I’ll try to make it today because timely is critical.
I desperately need a haircut so today when the shops open, I’ll get myself more presentable. For the video I could read my most recent book of poems, AFTER DARK, which came out last year. But I want to think about this. As Drury’s poet laureate, maybe I should pick a selection from several sources to read. Something I’ll need to decide over the next few hours. Straightening my work space? Hey, it will still be there tomorrow, right? My friend and fellow writer Bill Anderson says one of the best parts of being a writer is that almost everyday some new surprise comes up to keep the game interesting. This, I think, is a good example.
This week it’s full speed ahead on an article about Bill Anderson for an upcoming issue of Our America Magazine, a historical publication that grew from the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in Marshfield, Missouri.
Bill has responded to a list of questions and provided other helpful information and I already have a good start on the article so I’m shooting for the end of the week to finish the piece of get close to it.
Many of you know Bill personally and/or through his wonderful books. He and I have been friends forever, dating back decades through our association at the annual Children’s Literature Festival in Warrensburg, Missouri. To many thousands of children who sat in his audiences he’s best known for his books about Laura Ingalls Wilder, and quite deservedly so, but there is SO much more to know about Bill Anderson! It is my privilege to be asked to write this article.
When Bill Anderson came through Springfield the other day and we were visiting, one of the points he made was that writers are blessed almost daily with surprises. Someone sends a touching fan note. A request comes in for permission to reprint something. A new idea smacks us on the forehead. It doesn’t have to be a big surprise to brighten the day.
I’ve thought about Bill’s comment several times since then. He’s right. The surprises are like adrenalin in my system. They perk me up, recharge me, lift my spirits, remind me why I do what I do each day, even on mornings when what I really want to do is sleep in.
Example: Yesterday Su Hutchens sent me two poems from a second grade class she was teaching. All the kids wrote poems, then they selected two for me. I read them with a smile and promptly wrote a poem for them. The whole exchange was brief, but what a delightful surprise!
And if that weren’t surprise enough for the day, a friend sent a picture of his little boy, David, at the moment he opened an envelope addressed to him that contained a book of mine. It was a gift from my son, Jeff.
On days when it’s hard to smile, a child’s picture shows up or students send poems, and I’m reminded of the perks of being a writer.
This has been a good week. Monday night I enjoyed the Teacher Appreciation Banquet. I started it in the late 80s and chaired the committee for the first seven or eight years. I love to see it still flourishing and attended by close to one thousand people each year.
Then came Texas Library Association Conference, which I’ve already reported on. It was a short trip but still required most of Tuesday and Thursday as travel days and Wednesday as a busy day at the conference.
I got back to town yesterday in time to meet with Bill Anderson for a pleasant afternoon of news swapping and I also took him to see “my” school. Bill was thoughtful enough to bring some of his own books to donate to the Harrison library. The kids are in for a wonderful treat when they discover these new treasures in their library!
Friday was clear. No meetings. No outside obligations. It was a full, sweet, beautiful writing day!
Tonight I’ll attend a banquet honoring two new inductees into the Breech School of Business Hall of Fame. As a past honoree, I’m invited too. I look forward to that. http://www.drury.edu/business/breech-hall-of-fame . To find me, scroll back to the 2004 class.
I haven’t had a chance to tell you what a fine time I had last Friday when dear friend Cheryl Harness came to town from Independence, Missouri to do a writing workshop for veterans hosted at Drury University. http://www.cherylharness.com/biography.htm What a talented lady! She paints, she writes, she sculpts, and she carries an encyclopedic amount of history in her brain.
Our last time together was when we were the two speakers at a conference at Sterling College in Sterling, Kansas last year so we had tons of catching up to do. I took her to Big Whiskey’s where we whiled away the afternoon sipping milk and nibbling cookies. We had a fine time.
And as if that weren’t enough excitement in my life, another talented friend of many years, Bill Anderson, is coming to town next week — the very day I get back from Houston — and we’re already planning on a good visit. http://www.williamandersonbooks.com
Bill also knows how to make history come alive for young audiences and his fans flock to hear him talk about his books on Laura Ingalls Wilder, Mark Twain, The von Trapp Family, and many others. I took Cheryl to see “my” school and Bill is kind enough to ask to see it too. Oh twist my arm!