Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Children's Writer in Residence at Thurber House

Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio
I have the honor of being chosen as the Thurber House Children’s Writer in Residence for 2013. For one month, I will stay in this amazing house in Columbus, Ohio, where James Thurber used to live with his family. Some of his most famous stories were inspired by events that took place in that house. The ghost walked up those steps. The bed fell on his father - in the attic where I will be sleeping. The house has been preserved as a living museum where, as Thurber House says, “laughter, learning and literature meet.”

Naturally I can’t wait to be inspired by the setting, but I also look forward to teaching the students who come to study writing at Thurber House. I know I’ll learn as much if not more from them. That has been my experience as an instructor at Writopia Lab.

Kids’ minds are so fertile. There are no limits to what they can imagine. That ability reminds me of something Thurber wrote. (He had suffered an eye injury when his brother shot him with an arrow while they were playing William Tell.)

“With perfect vision, one is inextricably trapped in the workaday world... For the hawk-eyed person, life has none of those soft edges which for me blur into fantasy; for such a person an electric welder is merely an electric welder, not a radiant fool setting off a sky-rocket by day. The kingdom of the partly blind is a little like Oz....  Anything you can think of, and a lot you never would think of, can happen there.”

That is exactly what I hope happens whenever I sit at my desk. I try to remember what it’s like to be a kid where anything is possible. I try to escape the workaday world and look for radiant fools. I know I'll find something equally amazing at Thurber House!

It’s hard to stop quoting Thurber, but I will -- after sharing one last thought from him.

“I am not a cat man, but a dog man, and all felines can tell this at a glance - a sharp, vindictive glance.”

He must have met the one with whom I share my writing space. I’ll give my cat Blackberry a chance to respond soon.