I received another mail offer for a writing course. On the mail-in sign-up card there was a place to attach the Growing Up by Marylin Warner sticker (see picture above). This writing gimmick made me laugh because I remember what happened to you.
In 1965, you signed up for a writing course in children’s short story writing. After you mailed the check (and it wasn’t a cheap course), you received the book, workbooks and assignment sheets, and you began working seriously at the dining room table. Weeks later when you mailed off the first completed short story assignment, our family celebrated by having coconut cream pie for dessert after dinner. It was an exciting time!
You waited for a reply. And waited. Finally, several months later, you wrote a nice note to your assigned teacher, asking him if there was a problem. The program director answered your note, sadly informing you that your teacher had died in an accident.
You were given the name of a new teacher. You retyped the story and mailed it in. No special dessert this time, just a quiet, hopeful re-send of an assignment.
Less than a month later, you were informed your second teacher died of a heart attack.
The director promised to find you another teacher, but you wrote back and pleasantly suggested they not push their luck. They refunded your money, and when the check arrived you laughed and said, “At least they didn’t make it out to Typhoid Mary Shepherd.” You said you hoped the story wasn’t so bad it killed the teachers…or made them want to kill themselves.
You never signed up for another course by mail. But you didn’t give up writing, either. Instead, you worked with local writers and helped form the writing group that each month provided poems, essays and stories to be printed in “The Writers’ Bloc” of THE FORT SCOTT TRIBUNE. You and I attended one- and two-day conferences at Avilla College and Bethel College, and we challenged each other to make submissions and enter contests. (For a brief description of our writing, click on About Us at the top of the blog.) In honor of your many years of encouragement to writers, on this blog I’ve sponsored several no-fee writing contests that paid cash prizes for the winning entries.
With writing setbacks, like everything in your life, Mom, you found a way to make the best of even a bad situation. You refused to give up and encouraged others to keep trying, too. You may not remember any of this from your life, but I do. And so do the many others you’ve encouraged. Together, we thank you.
Darla McDavid’s “Darla Writes” is a superbly helpful writing blog. Her post this week is a must-read for writers of all levels and stages of their writing careers. UCLA basketball coach John Wooden grew up on a small farm in Indiana, and his father’s 7-point creed applies perfectly to the writing life. This is an inspiring post! http://www.darlawrites.com/john-wooden-creed-writing-life/