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.