Yesterday, I was in New York. The day before that, I was in Saratoga Springs, which is also in New York, but might as well be on a different planet. Today, I'm in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which is on yet another planet.
At first blush, it's pure culture shock.
In Saratoga Springs, it's full autumn. The leaves are turning, the breeze is brisk, the sun is warmish and very gold. We were surrounded by friends, old and new, sharing news about our lives and our work and ideas about art and fantasy and writing and publishing and how great Laurie Edison's jewelry looked on each other.
In New York, it's earlier. The trees are more discouraged than autumnal, drying out rather than coloring. It was cool yesterday, but I was comfortable in only a jacket. Briskness is still around the corner. I was running around like the proverbial headless chicken, unpacking, sorting, checking lists, running errands, laying out clothes, changing my mind, grateful we were having the mail held until we're back from Michigan because I couldn't have stood to deal with that, too.
In Kalamazoo, it's winter. I don't know a soul here--Ellen's flight from Minneapolis to Kalamazoo got cancelled, and she's coming in later this morning--and my friends' news has become celebrity gossip I need to be discreet about. "Charles Vess! You know Charles VESS! How about Neil Gaiman? Have you ever met him?" I don't have a lot of decisions to make, I don't have to know where things are, I just have to be in the hotel lobby in time to be picked up and delivered to my next gig.
Still, there are congruences--at least between WFC and Kalamazoo. Everybody at the Kalamazoo Public Library last night was very into sharing ideas about art and fantasy and writing and publishing, and laughed obligingly when I made a joke. Once I get to my gig, I get to talk about the things I love and think about most: art and fantasy and fairy tale and writing. And everybody I talk to is just plain nice.
Also, I'm writing steadily. I wrote at WFC, I took a couple of hours at Starbucks on Monday, and yesterday, I wrote on the plane and in the Bar & Grille last night before my reading, and the waitress just kept bringing me tea, very quietly, so as not to disturb me. Which, in a sports bar with the TV blaring and a bunch of sozzled businessmen holding down the bar (in some cases, literally), was oddly touching.
I've redrafted Chapters 8-10, though. The lady selling my books at the library gig (who deserves a post all her own), told me about a nice cafe down the street from the hotel where I may retreat to start working on Chapter 11, if not today (we've got a fairly full slate of school visits today), then tomorrow.
And now it's time to leap back into the fray. The first class is actually on Fairy Tales, with a syllabus I wouldn't mind following myself.