Sometimes a book comes along and you simply need to reach out to the author and tell them what their story meant to you. I did that today.
I’ve been doing a lot of research on transgender issues for a writing project I’m working on. I’ve read dozens of books – memoirs, novels, picture books, non-fiction. All of them have helped me better understand the transgender experience.
And then I read a review of Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky. I was surprised to find a novel for young people on this subject that I hadn’t yet stumbled across. It wasn’t in my library (they need to get a copy!) so I had to request an interlink loan. (The book was shipped to my library from another city.)
I gobbled up the story in one sitting. As I told the author in an email, the best word to describe this story is ‘tender’. And brave, just like the protagonist, who, baby step after baby step blossoms into the person she was meant to be.
In a way, this is the book I was hoping to write, but I couldn’t find my way, so I changed directions. I’m so glad Polonsky pulled it off, and so beautifully.
Last week I received a Facebook message from a woman who asked if I’d taught at a particular school close to 30 years ago. I had. She said she’d been a student in my class when she was in Grade 3. She’d recently read a post on Social Media about favourite teachers and it made her think of me.
This woman, who is now 41, went on to tell me that she remembers that I was always ‘happy and fun’. She shared a few of the funny things she recalls from my class (like how to use the tune from the Mickey Mouse song to spell my name) (I still use that song to teach people how to spell it) and how she began to come out of her shell that year. She finished by thanking me for being an ‘amazing teacher.’
I was so grateful to hear from this woman. I would have been in my early 20’s then and was definitely wet behind the ears when it came to teaching. I felt like an imposter, not a ‘real’ teacher. Apparently I did okay. 🙂 Hearing from her has reminded me of how important it is to reach out to those who have made a difference in our lives and to thank them. Let’s do it before it’s too late.
Be an encourager. Scatter sunshine. Who knows whose life you might touch with something as simple as a kind word. Debbie Macomber
I’m so excited that I soon get to see these women perform in their new theatre production, Mom’s the Word 3: Nest 1/2 Empty. I’ve been following their careers since they staged the first version of Mom’s the Word, a collection of stories that poke fun at the joys and challenges of raising toddlers. Their second show in this series – some years later – dealt with raising teens and it was just as wonderful. Now they’re on their third production where their children are leaving the nest (or not). Their marriages may have evolved as well. Alison Kelly (second from right) and I swapped parenting stories on the side of the soccer pitch for many years so I know first hand where some of her material comes from. Continue reading
I’m writing a new novel. This one is for an adult audience, not my usual genre which is young adult. This is new territory for me. I spent months doing the research, and now I’m well into the story. I’ll probably spend another year completing it before I’ll shop it around to publishers. If it’s any good and with a little luck it will get published and then I’ll start another one. Such is the life of a novelist.
But there’s always that chance that I won’t find a publisher for this one. It’s an extremely competitive field. I might have missed the boat with the topic which may be passé by the time the story is complete. Am I wasting a couple years of my life working on something that will simply grow mouldy in a file cabinet drawer in my basement? Every day I wonder if my time would be better spent working in a soup kitchen, bringing meals to the elderly, volunteering in a hospital – all things that would help make my community a better place.
This is the dilemma faced by most writers. Hugely successful ones sign contracts before a project is written, but for most of us, writing is an act of faith. We enjoy the process, but we also hope that our words will find an audience to entertain, inform, or simply be thought-provoking. But there are days, like this one, when the words aren’t flowing and the passage of time stares me in the face and I wonder … is this the best use of the time?