Thursday, April 5, 2012

Am I meant to be a writer?

    Kids are hilarious!  I've known this for a long time because I've been playing my violin (and singing) *cough* *cough* at assemblies since I was nine.  My violin is an extension of myself and a very nice crutch.  But through these years of either performing, speaking to support groups about infant loss or now talking about my books, I've learned to roll with the punches.
    Last week I spoke at different elementary schools.  I was really nervous--as you already know.  For some reason talking about my books, meant that I had to publicly believe in my writing. . . .  That was a big step for me.  It's often a lot easier to believe in myself inside of my own little house or on my blog, during book signing pictures or in front of friends.  Getting up and talking about my books and my journey . . . wow, that was different.
    I had a basic outline of what I'd say.  Melynda (from Crazy World) would talk too and I knew that would help me.  But when we arrived at the second school, I still didn't know what would happen.
    "So, children . . ."  I finished tuning my violin and let it rest in the case behind me.  "I'd like to ask you, what do you want to be when you grow up?"
    Every child raised one of their hands--I swear.  I called on a kid in the third row.  He seemed fun and hilarious--the kid I would have been at an assembly.  I hoped he'd say something wonderful and shock everyone there.  That class clown wanted to be a doctor, an engineer--the president--I just knew it!  But after I called on him, he thought for a moment, then blurted.  "When I grow up, I want to be homeless."  His left eyebrow arched like he had me cornered.  He waited to see what I'd do.  This could be the beginning of the end OR SO HE THOUGHT.
    I smiled warmly because suddenly I could banter day and night.  I didn't know I could talk to children, but this is what I was made for.  "Oh, homeless?" I asked chuckling.  "I've been homeless.  The nights can get so cold it's hard to breathe.  There's no place to go and danger is all around.  There's no money.  No food.  No hope.  It can be miserable and lonely.  I think you should try for something else."
    The kid--that same prankster who'd thought about derailing me--gawked.  "You've been homeless?"  Maybe it surprised him since I did my hair and didn't have soot on my face.
    "Yep and it was not a dream come true."  I winked at him, before asking more kids--who now had a healthy respect for me.
    At that point, I started telling them all about my dreams as a kid, how I'd envision a keyboard and see crazy hands typing more . . . AND more.  A red mug sat by the keys which never stopped clicking.  "But people told me I wasn't meant to be a writer.  They said I wasn't good enough.  So . . . I stopped.  Was that the right thing to do?"
    A million hands went up again.  "No.  You should never give up on your dreams," a girl said.  
    "That's exactly right," I agreed.  And she nodded to her friend signifying an I-told-you-so moment.
    "Time passed and I did start writing again.  I hid all those papers away though because someone said I wasn't meant to be a . . ."
    "Writer!" the kids said in unison.
    "I put the papers in a big box and thought I'd never look at them again.  I cope by writing because that's who I am.  I went through the hardest time of my life and that's what--"  A kid raised his hand. "Yes?" I asked.
    "The hardest time of your life . . ." he nearly mumbled.  "Oh my gosh, was it puberty?"
    Melynda who sat near me, folded in on herself and turned her mirthful face from the crowd.  I watched as two teachers almost exploded with the joy only teaching can bring.
    "Actually, no,"  I said.  "I was almost twenty and if I'd gone through puberty at that point . . . Well, that would have been strange."
    The teachers really did laugh after that and so did Melynda.  I looked at her seriously and she covered her mouth.
    So, all in all, the talks have gone well.  At each assembly Melynda and I have given away some books to the kids who won.  I've also given out a red mug, because at the end of my speech, I tell the kids, "I didn't think I could do it.  In fact, MANY people told me I couldn't.  But after I found an editor who believed in me, as we edited the final chapters of "The Sword of Senack," I looked down and my crazy hands were typing more . . . AND more.  A red mug sat by the keys which never stopped clicking.  And I knew in that moment I was a writer.  Yes, others believed in me, which was great, but I could finally believe in myself."
    One time when I gave out a red mug, the girl held it so tenderly.  "I can't believe it," she said.  "Out of all the kids here, I got the mug of a writer.  I did."

Rita, this last part is for you.  
If you haven't been to Rita's blog, you should.  
You can visit her HERE
This is a picture of my coffee cup.
Sorry it isn't that great of a picture.
I love it so much, though.  
It's a symbol of how if you work hard, amazing things can happen.

Next week, I'll tell you what happened when we spoke at the University of Phoenix.  It was really fun.

"The Sword of Senack" was just released.  
If you'd like more info about it, please go HERE.