Last Friday I was off. Off on a mission. Off my normal schedule. Off work. (And no, I wasn't playing hooky so I could drive to our state's capitol and deface the Rush Limbaugh bust. My whole school district was off.)
I took advantage of the fancy-free day to deliver a copy of the newest Chicken Soup book that has a story of mine. And I was delivering it to a very special young man.
Last year I had an exceptional 3rd grader in my class. He did something quite thoughtful, and after interviewing him, his mother, writing a rough draft, getting it critiqued by the wonderful WWWPs, I submitted it to Chicken Soup. It made it over the numerous hurdles and--yahoo!--it was chosen as one of the 101 stories.
This young man transferred to a neighboring school district this year, and so I decided to drop off a copy of the book on my day off. The most I hoped for: to have them call him down to the office so I could hand him the book. But what I got was so much more...
The secretary called the principal into the office, the principal took me up to Timothy's classroom and after speaking to the teacher, the students stopped what they were doing to listen to my spiel. Tim is a humble kid, so when I said, "Timothy, do you want to tell them your story, do you want me to tell your story or do you want me to just shut up?" he said I could tell his story.
Along with putting in a plug for the revision process and the importance of sharing their work with other writers, I told the class they had a famous kid in their class...that people all over the world would be reading about him. Their jaws dropped open, they clapped for Timothy...and the principal and the teacher both wiped tears from their eyes. (I later told my husband I made a principal and a teacher cry. He asked, "Did you want them to cry?" not knowing what had happened. He knows that sometimes I get spitting mad and sometimes I cry over my work. But this time, I was thrilled with the tears for a different reason. A writer is validated if tears are shed over sad or uproariously funny pieces.) I also told the class that it was important--to me--to tell Tim's story because lots of people say kids today think only of themselves and don't do charitable things. Timothy grinned, accepted the anthology, I gave him a hug and breezed out.
That is why I write creative nonfiction...