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September 30, 2003 - Maine
I've had a great summer in the U.S. I talk about it in more detail than you probably want on my latest journal entry……….but no one is looking over your shoulder. You can slip away anytime you like.
Once again I want to say how much I love getting your e-mails. If I am away from my computer for long stretches, they do pile up; but eventually I get to everyone. If you have sent me an e-mail that I didn't answer, it's probably because I deleted it by mistake, filed it before I sent it, or messed up electronically. Write again. My intention is to answer everyone!
I just read a wonderful and compelling short essay by Pico Iyer, the Forward to a book called, "Salon.com's Wanderlust." It's worth checking out. A sample: "…for me, the first great joy of traveling is simply the luxury of leaving all my beliefs and certainties at home, and seeing everything I thought I knew in a different light…"
I expect to be back in India from October 4th through March 27th. I'm hoping to see more of the country than I did last year; but my first priority is to live in the jhuggie community with the kids I met in April and get them to help me plot a book set in their "hut" settlement. I thought I could put something together from the essays they wrote and the pictures they took (see the Seattle entry from my journal)………….but I did not know nearly enough and I still needed the sounds and smells and colors of the real thing. The kids are spirited, motivated, and really cute……………..and they live in pretty rough circumstances…no running water, smelly drainage ditches, no place to study. I'm hoping I can write a book that shows the strength of spirit in even the toughest conditions.
I am nervous about the project because I want it to be a wonderful book…..and I've never tackled the chapter, highly plotted kind of book that involves character development and all that stuff. (A monkey that can't stop eating spaghetti is more my speed.) I'll probably aim for 4th and 5th grade readers.
The huts in the jhuggie do not exactly have guest rooms……………so I am helping to build a study hall for the kids (through Carol Lemley, my friend and a teacher in the school across the street) that I can live in for three weeks or so. When I leave, it will be theirs. Meanwhile, if any of you out there want to make a donation for windows, mats, pillows, lights, a table and some chairs, and other study hall items, I'd be happy to see that the money goes straight into the room which will be 10 x 20 feet (that's larger than their homes). I will also work closely with the kids as we plot the book together……..and the advance I get from a publisher will go back into their community.
I will probably write the book somewhere else.
If you want to help, make the check out to Carol and send it to a Florida address that the school uses to forward mail. If there is left over money, we'll buy books for their library.
Carol Lemley, 1455 Tallevast Rd., #L-2345, Sarasota, FL 34243