Every school I've had the privilege of speaking at has given me a great experience. Some have given me a great story, too.
“Eleven in Two Days”
years: 2008, 2009
No, not eleven schools—but eleven presentations.
After a January 2008 school visit that a newspaper covered, I got a call from a librarian who asked if I could do a cartooning workshop at her public library. (I spend most of my work hours writing, but I do also continue to draw single panel cartoons for magazines, something I was devoting much more time to in the early 2000s.)
Though I wish money and distance were never factors, the reality was that this library was too far to drive for a single appearance. However, I did ask her for a preferred date and said I’d come if I could book a school or two around it.
I ended up booking four.
Now this is rare, at least in my experience. It’s rare because it’s tough to do. Between testing, vacations, field trips, other assemblies, and so on, a school typically has a limited number of possible dates for an author presentation. So it's a long shot when an author contacts a school and says “I will be in town only on May 7. Are you interested and available?”
I scheduled two schools for a Wednesday and the other two schools plus the library for the next day. The night between, I'd stay at an old bed and breakfast.
First school was a 9 a.m. start—and was nearly two hours away. I like to arrive at least 20 minutes in advance to allow time to both set up and fix any possible problems. So this meant leaving by 6:30 a.m. That’s early for the average writer, normal for people with salaried jobs—or small children. Luckily, I have one of the two.
Day 1, school 1: presentations at 9, 9:45, and 11 a.m.
Day 1, school 2: 12:45, 1:20, and 2:10 p.m.
Day 1, after school: matinee of Iron Man
I was the only guest at the bed and breakfast, it was not haunted, and I was in bed by 9 p.m.
Day 2, choice of shampoos: kiwi, green apple, or carrot root
Day 2, school 1: 9, 9:50, 10:25 a.m.
Day 2, school 2: 12:45 p.m.
Day 2, library 1: 4 p.m.
Day 2, after library: interviewed by newspaper
Each school was gracious for their flexibility in working out this schedule. And, as always, I didn’t feel tired while presenting—but on the ride home, I do often pull into a rest stop or parking lot for a 20-minute nap.
Eleven months later to the very day, elsewhere in Connecticut, I had another five-in-forty-eight-hours. This time, all five were schools and I presented only a single time at each. It was as fun as the previous two-day stamina-tester, yet slightly less exhausting…and mercifully, the schedule was arranged entirely by someone else (an arts center).
Read the whole countdown.