I led the last meeting of our children’s writers’ group The Anita Factor . I decided we’d spend some time writing answers to a series of questions that would help us reflect on our own reading and writing experiences. As we shared our responses we learned more about each other. Here’s how I answered three of the questions.
I cried buckets when I read Gone With the Wind. I was about thirteen at the time and happened to be at a particularly sad part of the book during a private concert my mother was hosting. One of her good friends, a composer and musician was debuting a new piano work and Mom had invited a livingroom full of women to serve as her audience for the premiere. Mom had prepared all these lovely tea sandwiches and dainties to serve after the performance and I was to help her serve them. I was up in my room reading Gone With the Wind and crying during the concert so when Mom came to get me to help her serve the food my face was red and splotchy and my eyes swollen from crying. I had become just a puddle reading about all that Civil War devastation. Mom took one look at me and told me to just keep on reading. She would serve the guests herself.
What would literary success look like to you?
After I retired from teaching I set myself a goal of having a fiction piece published because up to that point I had only had things like newspaper columns, magazine articles, curriculums, meditations, travel pieces and essays published. I achieved my first goal when a short story I had written was published in Rhubarb magazine. Now I have set myself a goal of having two children’s books published. I’d like to publish a picture book and a middle grade novel. If I achieve that goal I will feel like I’ve been successful. I have ideas for other writing projects I’d like to try but for now the children’s books are my goal.
The first piece of writing I ever had published was a story I wrote in grade five after we’d had a major blizzard in Manitoba. I wrote about how the storm had effected our town. My fifth grade teacher Mr. Klassen thought my piece was so good he submitted it to the local paper and they printed it. My Mom cut out the article, created a background out of wrapping paper and framed it for me. I still have it in that same frame.