On Saturday of last week I set out on an adventure: attending the Missouri Association of School Librarians’ Spring Conference. Frankly, I’m really not a conference-going type of person. I prefer home. To top it off, I was down with a really nasty head cold. Nonetheless, I went determined to fulfill my obligations as a Gateway Reader Award committee member and to develop professionally through the workshops that were being offered. I can now tell you all about iMovie and #edchat and the distinctions between Matures, Boomers, Gen Xers, and Net Gens. I can give you the low down on bibliotherapy and its effect on bullying, what’s new in young adult literature, and also tell you which titles were the winners of this year’s Gateway, Truman, Mark Twain, and Show-Me awards. I could tell you how wonderful it was to be present when Peg Kehret accepted her third Mark Twain Award and was present for the announcement of her fourth. I could tell you how Lisa McMann’s personal story of her road to becoming a writer paralleled my own so closely it was eerie (until she ran off to the New York Times Best Sellers list while I’m still walking my path). But, what I’d rather tell you is this: going away, despite the bad cold and despite the fact that I prefer home, may have been one of the best things I’ve done in a while. Here’s why: hope. In all the bleak, dystopian worlds of YA Lit, there is hope. In all the fear and trepidation regarding technology in education, there is hope. In all the concern over this generation and the perception that they are too plugged in to be any good in the “real world”, there is hope. The MASL theme was “Powered Up”, but my personal take-away was this: there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful.
I tend to internalize even my professional development. What things I learn in one setting, I naturally apply in others. This thread of hopefulness has been bright in my life lately. It’s been present and powerful and pretty. I can’t point to anything in particular, any circumstance or reason for it; but I can tell you it is there. I don’t know which if any of this weekend’s speakers actually discussed hope, but I heard it nonetheless. And, I experienced its transformative powers in my thinking regarding writing, audience, purpose, and even my spiritual life.
So, though I hate going away, I came home reassured, reaffirmed, renewed and hopeful. Yes, Emily, it does perch in the soul and sing ceaselessly. You can’t really ask for more than that.