Earlier this week I spent a day in Rye, New York, where I presented a workshop on using poetry in the classroom to teachers attending the New York State Reading Association conference. While there, I had the opportunity to say hi to a number of old friends from NYSRA, the IRA staff and Board, and a few people who contributed to Reading Today while I was editor. I appreciated the opportunity to renew friendships, and I was reminded how much these relationships continue to mean to me during my life “after IRA.”

From a freelance point of view, one always questions the value of going to an event such as this in terms of balancing the cost of travel and registration versus the potential gains. All in all, I decided the event was a great success—and for reasons that went far beyond my workshop itself. Both in the workshop and outside, I met several people who expressed interest in possible author visits, and that’s always a good thing. Establishing personal contact with folks in the field is far better than simply sending out an author brochure or making a cold call.

Even better, I found myself recharged with many new ideas. After perusing the program and attending a few sessions, I got several ideas for articles to pitch to various publications, as well as some new ideas for marketing myself and my writing. Sometimes it’s helpful to step outside the normal routine for a day and just think about possibilities, and to do so in a conference center full of bright, talented educators is a perfect setting.

As I made the 3-hour drive home on Monday night, I felt physically tired but intellectually exhilarated. Once again I was reminded just how energizing it is for an author to work with engaged teachers in the critical process of developing students who not only know how to read and write effectively  but who also respect and appreciate the value and beauty of the written word. That’s why I enjoyed working for more than 30 years with the International Reading Association and why I enjoy my current role as an author and freelance writer/editor so very much.

Random Writing Thought of the Week: Ideas are all around us. Sometimes we get so caught up in the day’s activities and deadlines that we can’t really see them. Taking some time to step back and reflect can help us regain our focus.

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