My heart is overflowing with appreciation for all the love and conversation that’s been thrown my way the last few days. I’m meeting people virtually, I’m starting to understand how Twitter is a professional tool as well as a place for funny cat photos (I’m got one of my darling Lil’ Bud in reserve for the perfect book tie-in— someday), I’m starting to understand how to use 140 characters to connect to places with larger character counts for greater conversation, and I’m being awed and humbled by the diversity of participants (hello– wonderfully engaged high school freshman Savannah Sullivan @Kingsinbackrow– who weighed in via Twitter! And seems to love the TV show Orphan Black as much as I do!) I’m new to Twitter so I’m not very adept at feeds, conversations, and Twitter etiquette yet, but I’m a motivated learner. I’m trying to respond to lots of people, but my sincerest apologies if I’m missed giving you a reply. I’m working on it!
I write reviews for Kirkus, another experience I’m humbled to be allowed to have, and man, is it ever hard. That may be a post in itself for another day. But for now, writing a review is sometimes so hard for me that my husband has suggested I should quit doing it. Which instantly stops my tears and makes me exclaim, “Why would I stop doing this? Having to do this really hard thing makes me smarter because it makes me work hard to be honest, kind, succinct, and the high stakes are scary but when I do it well I feel like I’ve really accomplished something.”
There’s a reward for doing hard things, but there are also lots of rewards for doing easy things– like the rewards of eating popcorn and enjoying Norman Reedus showing more and more heart in his character of Daryl on The Walking Dead. So it isn’t always easy to choose the hard things. I’ve been sort of thinking for years about gender issues in the library, and sort of vaguely considering that there’s a germ of an idea here someplace that needs to be explored, but articulating and discussing sensitive issues is hard. And reading funny and true books like Road Rash by Mark Huntley Parsons–@MarkHParsons– is so much easier. So much safer than throwing ideas out to the world. But right now I’m so thankful that a casual comment at a library event has forced me to sit down and start really thinking hard, about myself, and the professional world I live in, and the social world I live in, about where my ideas come from, and what behaviors those ideas lead to, and what ideas those behaviors might plant in the minds of people who share these worlds with me.
I happened to be up at school today and had some of these worlds collide as a fellow educator and I started talking about incorporating modern texts into the English curriculum, about what it means to encourage people to become readers, and yes– I didn’t even force it, pinky swear– some of these gender issues came up. And I knew exactly what this person meant when they referenced books by gender, and in the past I might not have questioned the terminology. But today I did, and it’s because you’ve all got me thinking. And my friend and I had a great, powerful discussion too, and so I want you all to know that your comments to me are so appreciated, and by simply joining me in the conversation the ideas you are sharing with me are already being carried to new audiences, and making lives better.
It may sound like hyperbole, but I don’t think it is. What authors, librarians, publishers, and people in the world who talk about books do is important. And the way we do it matters.
This was intended to be a blog post on alternative phrases for “boy” or “girl” books, but I couldn’t help but share my appreciation for all of you first. Look for another “official” post on gender in the library tomorrow. The ideas and topics I want to discuss with all of you are exploding from me in a geyser of joy.
PS So my first blog post mentions how I sometimes feel like contacting authors is violating their privacy, or intruding on their writerly solitude, or annoying them because they feel like they have to respond to crazed fans (me!) But now I’m thinking that if an author is on Twitter I hope he or she is inviting conversation. So when I mention an author (or anyone with a Twitter account) in a blog I’m going to let them know via Twitter. Because it means I’m a fan, and I hope it makes them happy to know that what they are doing is important to someone. Hope that’s OK and doesn’t make some of you crazy with too many Tweets from me!