I spent last weekend in Syracuse (home of the world's largest snowplow, or so I'm told) at an SCBWI Conference. It was a great event, and, as always, I enjoyed the chance to talk with so many authors, illustrators, and creative-minds-in-the-making. One of the best parts of the trip, though, had nothing to do with the conference itself. The kind author/SCBWI RA Emeritus of the region who picked me up told me we needed to make just one quick stop on the way from the hotel to the airport, to tuck in some special folks for the night. And that's how it came about that I spent Friday night petting friendly sheep, curious (and HUNGRY!) goats, and a gaggle of the most literary chickens I suspect I'll ever meet. (And I'm sure Pippi, Alice, Wendy, Jo March, Junie B. Jones, and Anne Shirley would send their regards if they knew I was writing about them.) City girl that I am, I was charmed. I'm quite sure there are farm animals somewhere in NYC, as it's the city that reportedly has everything, but I haven't found 'em yet.
More importantly, it got me thinking about PERSPECTIVE, and the eyes through which writers and artists see the world and how they then reflect, recreate, or utterly re-imagine those worlds in their books. I've always thought that one of the best things I've inadvertently managed to do for myself as a person is to live many different places--because while I love NYC and my corner of Brooklyn furiously, I'm regularly reminded that my inner Texan is always just under the surface of myself, as is my awareness of other places I've lived and known--Canada, the Midwest, the South. Somehow, they all add up to the worldview that is particularly my own, and the eyes through which I participate in art, as a reader, and as an editor, too. Even still, this weekend's trip reminded me of how good it is to journey outside one's sense of the ordinary, and to be nudged into recalling how many varied perspectives and worlds exist outside of one's immediate, everyday environment. And I think that's a realization with which Jo March and Anne Shirley (and all the other literary namesakes belonging to that flock of chickens) would heartily agree.