I am YA author B. A. Binns and since spring has finally sprung I, along with many of the other genre-istas, are thinking about vacations. I'm here to say that my favorite vacation is always the one in the future, and I have that one planned.
A few months ago I was contacted by Bailey Ortiz, a teen librarian in Connecticut. She had heard about my 2013 talk to the 8th National Conference of African American Librarians (NCAAL) on Empowering the Voice of the Black Male in Children’s and Teen Lit. She wondered if I would be willing to travel to Connecticut to give that talk to the librarians attending the CLA (Connecticut Library Association)
I happen to be a very shy person. That's why I started out as a Biochemist (closeted inside a lab) and then moved to Computer Science (holed up with a machine) and now I am a writer (a more solitary profession has not been invented). Only I quickly learned that writing also involves speaking, it's part of the promotion thing. Lo and behold, I discovered I liked speaking in front of large, anonymous groups.
Of course I said yes. I've never been to Connecticut, so the crowd would be totally anonymous to me and I would be facing librarians, people with a mission I respect. And that meant I could treat this as a partial vacation. Which is good, because the stipend is pretty much non-existent. Seriously, it will cost me more to board my dog than the Honorarium I am receiving from the conference. But I get the opportunity to spread the message, because diversity in YA literature is important to me, to kids, and to the future.
And I get this nifty mini-vacation.
I will board a train and overnight it to Hartford, Connecticut. I get to walk in and go directly to bed (yes, I said bed) It will be shaky, but relaxing. I wake in the morning, shower, have breakfast and look out the windows to see a new landscape, the kind of thing you never see from the heights of an airplane. I'll meet people, because there is a difference between squeezing in up-close-and-personal with passengers in an airplane, and walking down the halls in a train, sitting at a table and eating, visiting the lounge car with people who are feeling as leisurely as you are. The other passengers are not your competition the way they feel like on a plane.
I'm taking Amtrak because I readily admit that I hate flying. It's not a fear of flying, exactly, almost more a fear of airports
- having to arrive hours in advance and taking off my shoes for TSA
- being squeezed into a too-small seat inside a crowded fuselage
- listening to kids crying because their ears are popping
- rebreathing air that has gone through smokers and people with colds
- lost luggage or just the struggle to get your suitcase into the overfull overhead compartment
I will enjoy my trip, see parts of the U. S. right outside my window, meet nice people, spend two days in Hartford with friendly librarians and return home unfrazzled.