"Write a short paragraph describing an adventure you had as a kid."
A simple enough task. Pencils began scratching around the room. All but mine. Simple enough unless you were like me and spent the better part of your childhood going out of your way to avoid adventure. Outdoor bathrooms, dirty socks, possible tapeworm infection, poky shirt tags, weird smelling cats, bugs, worms, snakes, unavailable dental hygiene and scratchy sweaters, all these and much, much more occurred on adventures--no thank you.
It isn't a huge deal to miss the occasional sleepover or camping trip as a kid, but the bigger you grow, the bigger the adventures become and pretty soon it's either leap or be left with nothing but the story of the one time you switched brands of tomato soup to entertain friends with at parties. And good luck with that.
I managed to scribble out some lame excuse for an adventure, a three block bike ride to my friend's house in broad daylight, and sat silently thankful that my recent adulthood had brought a new perspective on taking opportunities that come my way.
When I received the Highlights Foundation e-mail describing the "It's All About Character" workshop, I had recently returned from Honesdale, and was not in any big hurry to repeat the fun that is air travel today. The workshop was being led by Kim Griswell and Lindsay Barrett George. Hmmm...I knew both of them and admired their work. Special guest speakers would be librarian Martha Vines, author Pat Thomas, and one of my personal heroes author/illustrator Suzanne Bloom. Hubby had been giving me pointed "poop or get off the pot" looks whenever I whined about wanting to write. I went for it.
It was an exhausting and intense four days. Kim's talk "The Picture Book Hero" was especially interesting and informative for me, and I highly recommend the full workshop she does on the "hero's journey." She is an editor and writer who knows her stuff. Lindsay gave us an honest insight into the lengthy and sometimes futile process of developing a book (eighty-four dummies does not guarantee a sale), but the process is valuable regardless, something important for those of us who get discouraged after...well...ONE.
The guests were all wonderful and Suzanne even hung around the next day listening to readings and offering her two cents, which if you've ever paid a small fortune to a certain national organization to be kept away from the speakers like the great unwashed, you know what a hoot this was for everyone. Add on wonderful scenery, a cozy cabin complete with coffee and mini-fridge all to yourself and oh the food, three scrumptious gourmet meals a day; I take my eats seriously, and my palate was deliriously happy. The workshop was limited to twelve, and we encompassed the full range, from newbies to the much published, and both Kim and Lindsay were thorough and honest in their critiques, with long one-on-one conferences and meticulous notes for each attendee. No false praise or hand holding. I came away inspired to get to work.
My adventure was not without mishap: almost missing my connection in Philly, where they put you on a bus and drive you to what appears to be an abandoned warehouse in Jersey to catch your plane, a couple of warmth-seeking centipedes invading my cabin's bathroom (see aforementioned bug aversion), forgotten dental floss, and the apparent onset of decripitude which seems to mean I cannot sit for long periods without my knees locking up, but despite, I was very glad I went. It was an adventure worth taking.