Louise

This week I am staying at the Marriot Courtyard in Provo, because I’m a presenter for the Writing & Illustrating For Young Readers Workshop. This means I teach a workshop for YA novelists every morning from 8:30 to 12:30, give a speech twice, attend others speeches in the afternoon, talk to soon-to-be published writers, attend a couple of dinners—the regular conference type of work.

I am exhausted and exhilarated. I love having students, seeing colleagues and talking about writing. It reminds me that I got to have the life I wanted. It was a life I couldn’t imagine for myself at age thirty. I was only beginning to imagine it at age 40 and it really began at age 42. My professional life began when we moved to Provo from St. Paul MN, my first novel was accepted at Delacorte Press, and I began teaching part-time at BYU. 1985 was a very good year.

I know this didn’t happen magically, that I prepared for what eventually became my life, but there were so many serendipitous moments, so many encouraging, delightful people along the way.

For example, my first year of teaching, I was asked to teach an Honors English 251 class (literature for English majors) on the morning of the first day of the semester. I said yes, hung up the phone and realized I was completely unprepared for the task. My class was at one o’clock. I went to Elouise Bell in a panic. “This is what you do,” she said to me. “I teach that class at eleven in the morning; you come to my class and take notes and then go teach your class.” She gave me her syllabus. I whited out her name and put my name in its place. Now it was my syllabus too. That whole semester I attended Elouise’s class taking furious notes of her lectures and replayed them in my class. I told exactly the same jokes she did. I was Elouise Bell’s parrot well into mid-semester when I became confident enough to turn into Louise Plummer. I will always love Elouise for that enormous generosity.

I’m feeling blessed.

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