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.  


  1. Love, love, love your inspiration and answers to the assembly!

  2. Gosh - You're famous...I better get your autograph now before you become too cool to remember me- LOL. Congrats!! I would love to come see you speak :)

  3. Sounds like it went great, congrats. Definitely looking forward to hearing about what went down at the university. If you can survive college students, you can survive anything. :)

  4. I love the puberty question. I had to lol. Keep on rolling....

  5. cute story. the hardest part of your life/puberty thing? that's great!!!! kids are funny...

  6. LMAO I blurted out laughing at the puberty remark right here, it must have been quite funny in person..hahaha.....glad you found your stride and yes you certaintly are a writer.

  7. You MUST have been destined to be a writer--you put me right there at that assembly with you!!

  8. OMGosh!! The red mug!!! I wanted to see it. It is lovely, lovely!! Thanks for posting a picture!!

    I loved how you told the boy the truth about being homeless. Children respect the truth. I believe that, no matter what anybody says. And they can tell the truth (puberty--LOL!) if they are not taught otherwise.

    If I wanted to be anybody, I would have wanted to be the girl who got the red mug. ;) It symbolizes the sharing or a dream. Great post! You guys are doing great!!

  9. "of" a dream. Sorry. I type fast when I get excited. ;)

  10. Sounds like you were a natural at teaching - or at least speaking to kids! Something I could never get the hang of when student teaching. Can't wait to hear about the university speech!

  11. Yes, you were born to's so evident when I read your books and your blog! It seems as though the words just flow out like they have a life of their own. Keep on seeking that dream!

  12. I'd speak with you anywhere my friend! You are truly an inspiration and a wonderful person. I'm honored to be your friend.

  13. I am glad you didn't give up, hard work and determination paid off handsomely. And I don't mean money.

  14. Wow and . . .WOW! I"m glad you didn't give up too! What an inspiring post. It is wonderful that you are talking with kids. Our school used to have authors come to visit and I loved it. It's so powerful for kids to hear "real writers" share their struggles and success. The teachers loved it too! I miss those days, as there is never any money anymore for those extra opportunities.

  15. Loved the story those kids are lucky to have such an awesome person talk to them and share about the highs and lows of being a writer......

  16. I adore this post and the hilarious interactions. Kids are great and you're fabulous.

  17. You are an inspiration ;o) Thank you for sharing --even though you made me cry! lol

    Keep the faith!

  18. Elisabeth,

    great post! funny kid, trying to see what you would say.

    will be back to read more!


  19. So happy to hear the school visits are going well! That kid thought he could trip you up but he had no idea what you have been through. It sounds like you handles the crazy questions with ease and finess! Yeah for you. How cool that you give out a red writer's mug. I love that!


  20. Very nice response to the kid's question and lovely post.

  21. Great story! To the uninitiated it may seem that speaking to children is easy but it's quite a challenge. You do seem to have the knack!

  22. i love your responses. great story!!

  23. It takes a lot of guts to talk to a group of kids because you never know what's going to come out of their mouths. It took me a while to be comfortable speaking to groups of children, when I have never been nervous speaking to a group of adults. This was a great story and I think you are right--you are meant to be a writer. :)

  24. This was a really good one girl and I wish I could have been in the assembly to feel the excitement of the children and hear your presentation. You are really gifted.

  25. Your blog is very insightful. I love reading it.

  26. Great post! That's pretty wild that he said he wants to be homeless to see what you would say. I hope his "dream" doesn't come true, in this case. Good response back to him!