Meeting Susan Branch

It's only five weeks away from "moving day". As I'm packing, selling and throwing STUFF away - boy do I have lots of stuff - I've been thinking a great deal about my 5.25 years here in Southern California. Lots of learning, lots of disappointment, lots of self-discovery the hard and painful way... as you can see my head seems to naturally sink toward the negative. I would have to say these past years have been the hardest of my little measly life thus far. At this point I should probably just crawl into one of my moving boxes and close the lid. But I don't because beside me is a stack of books illustrated and written by Susan Branch waiting to be packed. And finally, I remember a good Los Angeles moment...

Mother's Day Weekend - May 2006 Susan Branch opens her store in Arroyo Grande, CA
That is a 2.5 hour drive for me - which I make with my stack of books on Sunday. I'm particularly fond of Susan because she's a fabulous artist who didn't go to a fancy schmancy art school to paint, she just did it on her own and because she loved it. And, after reading about her on her website, I felt she was my beacon of light at the end of a winding tunnel. She has a very similar story to mine (read here) and I wiped a tear or 50 from my eyes when I read it. I felt both the sadness and hope and I wrote her a really long letter to telling her so.
Okay, Okay, so I finally find my way to her new store and wait in line for about 45 minutes because she clearly has a lot of other fans besides me. The woman behind me has offered to take pictures of us (I'm so grateful - SB fans are the sweetest) And it's ALL I can do not to cry. I'm so excited, there's so much I want to say. I tell her how much her work and life story means to me and how I've been struggling with my own illustrated books. She gave me an encouraging word that I've never heard from any writer or artist before. She said there was a timing and it would happen when it needed to happen. SIGH!!!! Pressure to achieve before I'm 40, before I leave L.A., before the chicken is done roasting, you name it ... Thank you Susan for those honest words. All this pressure wasn't getting me anywhere anyway.
She signed my books - and I did cry a little on the way home - perhaps it was the release of all that pressure.