Last August, I attended a new book festival hosted in my hometown. The daylong schedule was slam-packed with fantastic author panels on all kinds of topics, including an outstanding one on children’s literature. An opportunity to hear from so many authors gathered fifteen minutes from my house—for free!—was a dream come true, so as soon as I got home that night, I marked the date for this year’s festival on my calendar.
So, Saturday morning, I headed downtown to talk to book people about books. The authors were insightful and engaging, and I went to sessions for picture books, middle grade and young adult, in addition to several panels on adult literature. But one of the best parts of going to a local festival was discovering people I thought I knew in the sessions with me. Not only did I find people who loved books, but I discovered other people who created books, both writers and illustrators.
Traveling for a conference introduces me to great people I might never have met, but getting involved in a local event reintroduces me to people who can be active parts of my regular writing life, many of whom I never knew were interested in writing. When I’m absorbed in the stories I’m reading and creating, it’s easy to let myself become isolated, and I begin to think I’m the only one who cares about this stuff.
But then I walk the lawn of our state Capitol and see swarms of people flipping through books, signing books, standing in long lines to get their books signed, talking about books, asking questions about books, loving books, and I remember that I’m a part of a community, and I’m not just writing for myself. I’m writing for this community, and it feels really good to belong.
How do you plug into a community of people who love books?