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Leave of Absence

In 38 years of writing, there has never been a time in which I haven’t split my energies: writing and teaching 5th grade, writing and teaching ESLin Japan, writing and teaching kindergarten, writing and traveling all over the country (and the world) to do author visits in schools, writing and serving on the faculty of Vermont College of Fine Arts. For 34 of those 38 years I have also been an involved dad, helping Debbie raise our two daughters, Kelsey and Amy.

That has changed. (Well, not the parenting part; you never stop being a parent.) I am beginning a leave of absence from VCFA. This will allow me to concentrate on my next young adult novel (tentatively titled Blowup), a middle grade novel, as well as several picture books. To say that I’m excited is an understatement. I am totally stoked!

The flip side to this elation is knowing that I won’t be in Montpelier in July for the VCFA residency. Which means I won’t be able to meet in person with my previous students at the picnic tables under the big maple and talk about writing. Or to sit in the audience clapping wildly when Max and Adam give their graduate readings and deliver their lectures, then cross the College Hall stage along with the rest of their stellar class to receive their MFA diplomas. Or to to stay up late with beloved and brilliant faculty in the Noble Landing Lounge and discuss . . . well, anything under the New England stars. I will miss all of that, and I’m very very sorry.

Still, in my mind I will take a walk with each and every one of the VCFA community who mean so much to me — down to the waterfall by the old mill, and soak in that beauty together. Once on the trail together, always on the trail together . . .