Okay, so I’ll admit it–the Baltimore Book Festival was intimidating and overwhelming in ways I did not expect. Because it was HOME!Â
The festival was held in the very same blocks (see above) where I used to go to ballet class in a pink chiffon skirt.Â Also the same blocks where (years later) I snuck clove cigarettes (WHICH IS BAD! BAD!) and shopped for vintage prom dresses and read “deep” poems and drank chewy coffee.Â
The people who turned up (whichÂ made me almost cry) were family I never see, old friends, teachers, parents of friends and friends of parents, and it was so amazing to see them all, and it was so scary and nerve-wracking to be on a stage in front of them.Â The toughest crowd I’ve ever experienced.
Partly becauseÂ I wanted to do so well, to show them I had turned out okay.Â And partly because I couldn’t put on my pretend-self in front of them. It wouldn’t have worked.Â So I have to admit it, I floundered.Â It was crazy. I was more nervous than I’ve ever been, reading anything, in front of anyone. More nervous than my first radio recording. More nervous than speaking to conferences and classrooms, on bigger stages, for fancier crowds.Â I lost my finesse, my composure.
It was also moving and intense and wonderful. It made me miss Baltimore so deeply, in ways I can’t even explain.Â
Thank you Baltimore!Â Thank you, most especially, to the Children’s Bookstore, for inviting me to come!Â You were my own first experience with the power of an indie children’s bookstore to change lives.Â And you’re continuing to change mine, even now.