Monday, September 10, 2012


I'm pretty pleased to be a part of many families. Right this moment, I'm sitting on my parents' back deck in Alabama wearing my Battle of the Monkey Stars shirt, flashing back to years worth of Monkey retreats.

Organizing my iPhoto, I came across a picture from an early retreat at House in the Woods, 2004. My face is shadowed by my baseball cap, but I got to hold the sign. I've been with this company since 2000 -- they really are my second family.

Then there's the greater theater community in Chicago. When I checked out the Facebook group "Chicago: 1995-2005", it reminded me of how invested I was for a while in seeing All the Shows. Now, I do theater only when it sounds fun, but I still see all those actors at weddings and fundraisers -- it's like a family reunion where you can't remember all the cousins' names, but everybody's friendly.

The kids at my after-school program make up another community. Even the ones who don't participate say, "Barrel of Monkeys!" and wave when they see me.

I recently served as a bridesmaid in my friends Sarah and Mac's wedding and was reminded of that amazing feeling of belonging a wedding can create, the sense of being one of many witnesses and active supporters of the next step in two friends' lives. And I just got back from vacation with another community of friends, the kind where everyone knows each other's business and where the mention of an inside joke ("He hid a lemon under the duvet!") can lead to hours of hysterical laughter.

Today, I caught up with my grad school class of writers, online of course. Allyson has a new book cover. Sue's stuck in a stinky harbor on her boat. Jess has a new job. Varian's visiting the fam. A bunch of us will be retreating together at the end of September, and I can't wait to see them in person.

I have my greater VCFA community, but they're online as well, spread out all over the country.

What I've been missing is a local community of writers -- people to check in with face to face, to commiserate, to keep accountable . . .

Recently, Amy Rose Capetta and Mary Winn Heider and I formed a formidable writers' gang: The Other Other Chicago Fire! or TOOCF! Whichever Chicago Fire you're thinking of (19th century disaster or soccer team), we're the other other one. I have high hopes for TOOCF, but we've only just begun. 

I dip in and out of SCBWI here, but I've never really gotten in a groove with it.

So when the Chicago Writers Conference popped up on Kickstarter, I signed up. I've got my tote bag. I'm printing out my tickets today. And I'm psyched to meet more Chicago writers in person, to feel a part of that community.

I'll be giving a reading at the CWC Special Edition of Tuesday Funk. If you're a Chicago writer, come say hi and we'll commune! 


Mary Robinette Kowal said...

It was lovely to meet you and to hear you read. I was so excited by the excerpts you read.

Mary Robinette Kowal said...

It was lovely to meet you and to hear you read. I was so excited by the excerpts you read.

Rachel Wilson said...

Likewise! I've just been reading some Nathaniel Hawthorne for this online course in fantasy & SF and your story had that classic creepy dread. Can't wait to read more! It was an honor to be on the bill with you.