Tuesday, February 16, 2016

In Praise of The Writing Barn

Today I’m beginning the first of what I hope will be an ongoing set of posts about people who make a difference in my writer world, whose presence and work furthers me (and many others) on the winding path toward creating art that matters. For me, this is a long, long list of amazing humans who not only write but also work tirelessly in one form or another to create community. Children’s writers are mostly generous like that, in ways both large and small. But it’s easier than I used to think to get lost in your own head in this world of writers and books, to find yourself stuck in the business details, the endless often soul-sucking worry about the next book and the next and ‘will anyone notice this one? Why am I doing this again?’

 Which is why I’m so grateful for so many people who keep me focused on the wonder and joy of the process, the journey. Who pay it forward HARD and remind me to do the same.

Writing Barn interior
 If you don’t know about The Writing Barn in Austin, well, you should. And if you don’t know about its creator and director Bethany Hegedus, well, you should know about her, too. I can’t even remember when I first met Bethany, but it was at least five years ago and probably in Austin. I do remember posing for a goofy picture with her at the Soho Press booth in 2012 at ALAMW in Dallas. Soho was launching Soho Teen and there was champagne and somehow colorful squirt guns, I think for the Soho Crime inprint. In any case, our paths kept crossing, Bethany and I, including our twice yearly sojourns to what a group of us now lovingly call The Lodge of Death. Each time I learned more about her, about what had brought her here to Texas, about her writer’s journey and life journey and bunch of stuff in between. Plus we laugh a lot. A lot!

Bethany Hegedus
Bethany writes amazing books, including but not limited to the picture book, Grandfather Gandhi, which she co-authored with Arun Gandhi, grandson of yes, the other Gandhi! Yes, I know! It is such a beautiful, moving, meaningful book.

But The Writing Barn! Bethany and her husband Vivek have made a true book-lover’s haven in a wooded area outside of Austin. Retreats, workshops, lectures, special events. You can come for a few hours, a weekend, a week, depending on the event. You can work on your writer’s craft and learn from a growing and illustrious list of guest authors. (Nova Ren Suma! Jenny Han! Francisco X. Stork! Libba Bray and Barry Goldblatt will be teaching in October!) I am forever grateful for the weekend I spent at The Writing Barn learning about ‘emotional turnings’ in novel writing from author Sara Zarr. I have been back many times, including as a mentor and writing
me and Sara Zarr !
instructor this past summer for a week long Whole Novel Workshop, where I got to teach alongside amazing writers Tim Wynne-Jones and Nicole Griffin, and also learn from many others including Lisa Papademetriou and Hannah Barnaby.

Have I gushed enough?
Here’s a link to The Writing Barn.
Check it out. Go!

Tell Bethany I sent you.

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