Last week I had a great opportunity to visit Austin, thanks to The Writing Barn (who donated a retreat to the Hurricane Sandy Kid Lit Cares Auction) and Barbara Moon! (who won the retreat and graciously offered it to me) I had an airline voucher to use from my cancelled flight coming back from SDCC, so it seems like a perfect opportunity for a inexpensive excursion. It was just for a few days, but it was exactly what I needed to help me switch gears after the trials of finishing "Will & Whit."
The Writing Barn used to be a horse barn, but now it's been transformed into a little book haven by author Bethany Hegedus. There are tons of trees, deer, birds, and QUIET. I was thrilled just to spend time outside in the sun and fresh air after being locked in my studio for so many months.
There's an adorable guest room, floor to ceiling bookshelves, a giant screened-in porch, a fire pit, grounds to explore with cool cactuses, and a scads of seating indoors and out where you can curl up with a book. (I particularly loved the lanterns in the trees that light up after sunset.) She hosts workshops and events there as well as writing retreats, so if you're in Austin I highly recommend you check it out.
And look, I've gotten the galley for "Will & Whit!"
(It's an unshaded/unpolished preview copy. The final book comes out in May.)
My goal on this trip was tackle my huge stack of longhand notes and writings I've been scribbling out on the side over this past year or so. Three spiral notebooks of lists, middle-of-the-night ideas, and half-baked ramblings. Most of it was process or organizational, but once I got all that cleared away I could organize and transcribe the rest. There were so many good spots for me to sit and work!
Phew! Now all my ideas are organized on my computer, so as I have time to develop them it'll be far less daunting. There are basically four ideas that I'm slowly developing next: adapting "Will & Whit" as a live musical, a story called "Question Marks" that's already been stewing for a year now, scheming my "long game" concerning education/curriculum, and finally doing something productive with my big honkin' body of personal illustration work.
My last night there I decided it would be poignant to burn all the pages since their contents were cleaned out. It felt so satisfying! And it was just what I needed to mentally start fresh and recenter myself like a chunk of clay on a potter's wheel.
While I was in Austin I also had the opportunity to meet The Girllustrators!
They're a group of lovely local lady illustrators who gather monthly to share projects, support each other, and talk shop. We met up over dinner and had a great conversation about process, community, and margaritas! Making art can be a isolating process, so having a regular meeting with other folks who understand what you're going through is really important. (Ehem, Bushcraft!)
One of the Girllustrators, Shelley Ann Jackson invited me to speak to her illustration class at the Texas State University in San Marcos while I was in town. I was thrilled to! I talked about my work as well as life as a working creative out in the "real world." It's funny, I've never taken an illustration class, so it seems strange to talk as though I have any sort of authority on the topic. But I figure the number of years I've worked out the kinks on my own makes up for it.
Lastly, I have to say that Austin really won me over. I know I'll be back again for sure! Thank you Bethany and Shelley for helping make my visit so special.
If you wanna see MORE PICS from this Austin adventure (Like the deer!) they're all here on Flickr.
Currently Reading: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking...by Susan Cain.
(I highly recommend this book)