Today as I was gathering up the historical and non-fiction to bring to the graduate class that I teach, I look at the words in these books that I treasure. I enjoy the historical, the most, The Orphan Train begs me to open the pages. White Socks Only and Freedom Summer, oh no, I can’t seem to find it.. I look hard at Ruby Bridges and wonder what she is doing now. I feel drawn to story, the story of people’s lives, the story
of your life,
I treasure Tuesday, the crafting of story, the play of writing, the joy of pressing that button to publish and then to hear from other authors, you, who also push the button to publish. Lately, it has felt like a writing hole for me, I’m anxious to climb out of it.
You are helping me climb out, because I read your words, your stories and I am renewed and energized and reminded that the discipline of writing our lives is sometimes joyous, but often it is painful, bruising as we push. You mentor me.
I spy another treasure on my shelf. It will help me this Thursday night as we talk about writing mentors. Katherine Paterson was the two-time winner of the National Book Award and Newbery Medal. Of course we know her; we love her words. We imagined Terabithia and in another personal favorite. I ached for Gilly to realize that she had arrived in the best home possible with Mamie Trotter, just as I ached for Kelly, my daughter to realize that we were the family that loved her, that wanted her. I flipped the first few pages hoping for some nuggets to share with my students. This is a book about the writerly life, how her life informed her books. One day Katherine was speaking with a graduate professor and said to the professor that she didn’t want to add another mediocre author to the world. Her teacher, Sara Little, replied saying that if she didn’t dare mediocrity she would never write anything at all (The Invisible Child, 2001).
I will dare mediocrity. I will continue to push the button on my laptop.
And I know you will too. We all take the risk.