The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Monday, October 21, 2013

Why I Write Creative Nonfiction

       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...




24 comments:

  1. I love this post! I love the passion of seeing beyond and sharing-you have a gift and put the spotlight on someone else who has his own talents to share! Great spotlight-I wish I had a teacher like you~ @>------------

    What a great story! Thank you for sharing the journey~ Congrats to Timothy!

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    1. Ella--You have obviously had some great teachers, because you write alongside Shay and Hedgewitch and Mama Zen...

      But thanks--and thanks for the kind words about Timothy.

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  2. I know how much pleasure you got from being published. Any writer would. But, oh my, the joy of sharing that feeling with a student...of making him feel SO good himself. Congrats, to you both on being great people...the world sure needs 'em!

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    1. Claudia--Thanks, and I agree. The world needs a lot more Timothys...

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  3. Kudos to you for spreading his story and giving him the recognition he deserves. One day he will be sharing this tale with his grandchildren on his knee.

    Not to be too inquisitive...but my inquiring mind wants to know...is that your picture on the cover? Just kidding. I know you would be smiling if it was you.

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    1. Val--The pudgy gut? Yes, I was the body double for that. The same haircut too. How did you guess?

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    2. The haircut was the kicker. I didn't notice the gut. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

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  4. What a great way to reinforce the fine principles of charity and humbleness. How nice of the teacher and staff to alter their day a little to provide time for something good. This is what it means to teach. Thanks for doing that for kids. And working in the part about writing and reading -- terrific!

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    1. Marcia--You know how we writers are--we aren't as flashy as rock stars or actors, so we have to get our plug in whenever we can...

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  5. What a sweet story and a wonderful way to encourage young writers.

    I suspect that being around kids like Timothy is not only why you write creative nonfiction, but also why you teach.

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    1. Donna--Thanks. And you're right. There are oodles of reasons why I write and lots of reasons why I teach, as well...

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  6. What a lovely read here! Thanks for sharing this, Sioux.

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    1. Jennifer--Thanks, and thank you for stopping by.

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  7. Shay--I definitely think Timothy thought it was cool...as much coolness as a flabby, gray-haired woman who's working on a mustache can muster...

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  8. So cool, Sioux. You're the bomb, you know that? Congrats on your story, for sure, but how wonderful of you to take the time to deliver the book and make Timothy feel special. You're a doll.

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    1. Lisa--I'm the bomb? So...apparently, you've been in the same room as me after I've consumed a bowl of chili?

      Now, if I were just an "inflatable" doll, I could let some of the air out and become smaller... ;)

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  9. With words, you have touched so many lives, motivated others, and made one little boy and his classmates realize how their actions impact others. You made ME cry. This is beautiful.

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    1. Linda--I think you and Tammy could get a job shoveling out barns.

      But thank you...

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  10. What an wonderful story! It's awesome that you publicly recognized that child in a way that made him feel as special as he is.

    Pat
    Critter Alley

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    1. Pat--Thanks. He IS an exceptional kid...

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  11. That is totally awesome. I wonder where he'll be in 20 years?

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    1. Sean--Great question. I wonder as well...However, I'm betting that he becomes a great man. A humble attitude, a wonderful smile, a willingness to reach out to others--those are three things that make him special...

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Thanks for your comments. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by...