Monday, December 19, 2011

Sharing the Gift of Words

My very first publishing credit came in 2009 when a short story I'd written a couple of years before was included in Stolen Christmas and Other Stories of the Season, a compilation put together by the mysterious and insightful LDS Publisher.

The story, called Believe, Mr. Thomas, was my attempt at allowing Santa Clause to be 'real' while staying consistent with the the typical adult view of reality. (Anyone who's been up until 2:00 am on December 25th using special wrapping paper and trying to disguise their handwriting will understand what I mean.)

I was very proud to have my story in print, and bought copies of the book for everyone in my family. (After all, anyone related to an author knows what gift to expect for Christmas. But I digress.)

Since that time, my excitement at having a 1,500 word story published has been eclipsed by the release of Bumpy Landings, and I'd all but forgotten about Mr. Thomas.

Fortunately, my sister remembered. She teaches a section on writing and literacy at her elementary school, and each December she reads my story of Mr. Thomas to her class as an example of creative writing.

A couple of weeks ago, I was visiting Utah for business and stopped by this sister's house to pick something up on my way to work. As we chatted, she got a funny look on her face and said, "I just realized I'm going to be doing your story in class today. If we move that section to first thing this morning, would you like to stay and read it to the kids?"

I hmmed and hahed, not really sure. It'd been a long time since I'd read the story, and to be honest I wasn't sure presenting it to the class would be the best use of my time. But I had some flexibility in my morning schedule, so I agreed to think about it. She handed me her copy of Stolen Christmas, and I read through my story while she finished getting ready.

Would it be too boastful to admit that after reading the story again, I found that I still loved it? Too bad, because I did.

I agreed to share the story, and had an absolutely wonderful time reading it aloud to a receptive and appreciative audience of fifth graders. My first public reading! And as my sister led the class in discussion, she pointed out little bits of technique and symbolism that even I hadn't realized were there.

I spent the rest of the morning with that warm glow that only comes when we share our talents with others, and I realized how truly blessed I am to have an active imagination and a smidgen of writing ability to turn my ideas into stories that can entertain and inspire.

My muse is loud and demanding, but hers is not the loudest nor the most insistent voice in my life. (Lately she's having trouble cracking the top five.) But those few brief moments of joy that I felt reading to a group of kids reminded me of just how important writing has become to me in my life. It's a wonderful gift, well worth the extra effort it takes to carve out some writing time from a crowded, hectic schedule.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a story that needs some attention.

(You can read Believe, Mr. Thomas as it originally appeared on the LDS Publisher's blog. If you like it, pick up Stolen Christmas and enjoy the other great stories inside.)