Mystery Reader

Sometimes the kids play on my computer and I end up finding photos that they took of themselves. This is one Magnolia took about two years ago. She is the sunshine in the family, so it was lovely to find it on the computer. I had a chance to read to her class this past week, and see this happiness in her, which was satisfying. I felt that happiness too.

First, a story: When Magnolia was actually close to the age she is in that photo, I was going back to school for my teaching degree. I paid little attention to how I felt about the work. I just tried to be the best at it. It wasn’t until the last class that I had what I consider the opposite of Oprah’s “Ah-ha” moment. We’ll call it the “Oh, shit” moment. The prof opened the class up for discussion on their best moments in teaching. I listened to the satisfaction around me, and paused. Then one of the ladies began crying as she talked about teaching. “I’m meant to do this!” she said through tears. People around me nodded. Um, really?  Was that what I was supposed to feel?


So, I asked myself: what did I like about teaching? The reading and writing. That’s what I wanted to do. I took a job as an admin. assistant and wrote at night. I was much happier with the struggle to publish than I was with the struggle to inspire teens to turn in homework.

It’s been a while since I was in the classroom. Maggie’s teacher has a parent come in now and then to read. The class knows someone is coming to read and talk with them, but they don’t know who. Maggie Pie asked if I could be a mystery reader and I’d already signed up. I didn’t want to ruin the surprise, so I lied–not a hard sell, since I had to take time off work and she knows that’s unlikely.

So, when I showed up, she was pretty thrilled. I read a book (about books and reading and writing–The Library Mouse) and then had a chance to talk about the writing process.  I talked about how writing is pretty much just thinking on paper. I showed them 350 pages of paper, and how you keep having to rearrange it and cut and add new pages. We talked about an agent being like a talent scout. We talked about how you don’t give up and you just keep writing when there are no guarantees that what you write will become a book. They were engaged and interested. They had questions like, does your hand hurt from writing? How much do you get paid? (haha) What’s your book about? And Magnolia kept thanking me afterward. A boy named Ace said, “I hope your book gets made. I want to read it.”

Maybe it was pleasing Maggie by being in her classroom, maybe it was that I got to talk about one my favorite things in life, or maybe it was that a little boy WANTED to read, that made me get a little choked up. But I got that feeling I was lacking when I was teaching. I’m on the right career path now. I’m so thankful for moments like this, which buffer the loneliness, rejection, questioning and doubt, and endless waiting that accompany trying to become a YA author.

Published by jody sparks

Jody Sparks Mugele spent her first career in marketing writing and leading teams of writers and editors. After her son came out as transgender in 2015, she dedicated herself to advocating for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. For two years, she led the Indianapolis regional chapter of PFLAG, a nationally renowned LGBTQ+ advocacy group. She has given many conference talks about parenting trans kids, healthcare in the trans community, and suicidality among LGBTQ+ youth. And with GenderNexus, an Indianapolis-based advocacy organization, she created programming and led support groups to work with parents to help their children through all aspects of gender transition. She recently moved to Northeast Georgia where she is excited to develop opportunities to continue to strongly and proudly advocate for LGBTQ+ members of our society. She also LOVES kitschy Christmas crafting!

7 thoughts on “Mystery Reader

  1. I was looking for the “like” button on this blog post…don’t give up Jody! It WILL happen. Like that boy Ace…I too am looking forward to reading your book!

    1. Haha! They should make a “Like” button! Thanks for the encouragement. I believe whole-heartedly that Ace will get his opportunity. And you! Thanks for believing in me and reading my blog!

  2. Mom thanks you (again) for coming i for mystery reader.I had so much fun!! I’m glad Ace made you happy. Hes a nice guy.

  3. Mom thanks you (again) for coming for mystery reader.I had so much fun!! I’m glad Ace made you happy. Hes a nice guy.

  4. Magnolia’s comments are so sweet. I enjoyed going to elementary school a few times too. Anna Li’s second grade class even asked for my autograph. But they definitely don’t realize how long it takes to get published. Don’t worry, you’ll get paid for writing someday, hopefully soon.

  5. Awww, love Maggie’s comments and the picture. Before you know it, her classmates will all be able to say “hey! That best-selling book was written by Magnolia’s Mom!!”

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