Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Discarding the shame of self-publishing

Self-publishing was never my plan.  I had long looked upon the idea as a desperate attempt by bad writer’s to purchase their moment of fame.  The term “vanity publishing” embodied all that I thought it could be.  A look in the mirror to boost your ego.
Ten years of searching for a publisher later, I stumbled on a novel-writing contest.  Yes!  I thought.  This is just what I need.  But the end date of the contest had come and gone and there seemed to be no thought of running the contest again.  Another opportunity lost.  But as I was already on the website, I decided to read more about the idea of publishing on demand. 

I have since publishing four books via this method.  At first, I tried to hide the fact that I had published myself, but it didn’t take long for those in-the-know to ferret out that little nugget of information.  My first book did surprisingly well.  I couldn’t wait to do more.  I had pages of unread material on my computer and now, at last, an avenue for my work to be read.  But I still felt I had failed.  I longed to have a publisher.  A contract.  A publicity tour. 
My husband recently finished a Master’s degree and along the way, has read aloud any snippets from the books he reads that have to do with writing.  I love hearing what other writer’s say about the craft.  It is always a confirmation of this work I so enjoy and an inspiration to keep going.  Last week, he read me a rather long passage from Eugene Peterson’s book The Pastor.  Peterson has had a fascinating career as a pastor, professor, and author of, among other things a best-selling translation of the Bible. 

He writes “I read Emily Dickinson’s pronouncement, ‘Publication is no business of the poet.’  (Truman) Capote exposed much of what I had been doing as ‘typing’ – using words to manipulate or inform or amuse.  Dickinson rescued me from a lust to be published.”  (The Pastor, p. 239)
The words sang through my writer’s soul.  Yes!  Being published is not the goal of my writing.  Learning, discovering, empathizing as I write is the goal.  To find a reader is a gift.  To have a well-written, deeply felt review is a trophy.  I have found these things in writing.  Most published authors work another job as well.  I am not so different and there is nothing to be ashamed of in self-publishing.  Of course, I wish I could afford a professional editor, publicist and someone who knows how to make my Kindle versions error-free, but still readers have found my work and joined my fanciful stories. 

To quote Peterson once more “It was a way of writing that involved a good deal of listening, looking around, getting acquainted with the neighborhood.  Not writing what I knew but writing into what I didn’t know, edging into a mystery.  This, I was learning, was what real writers did.”  (p. 238-239)  Beautiful.  It gives me chills.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Reader's Theatre for Volunteer Tea

I made good use of teaching blogs while teaching grade two this year.  In an effort to give back, I thought I'd post the Reader's Theatre I wrote for my class to perform at our annual Volunteer Tea.  The students made tissue paper flowers which I researched on Google.  I wanted a Reader's Theatre to go with this beautiful flowers, but had no luck finding any on the internet.  "Wait a minute!" I said to myself.  "I'm a writer.  Why not write my own?"  You can find the entire script below.  It ends by saying the children begin to sing.  We sang "All In The Golden Afternoon" from the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland.  I downloaded the sheet music from musicnotes.com

Volunteer Tea Reader’s Theatre

Grade 2

Roses: Oh my, what a glorious day, but we’re so thirsty.

Tulips: We are too.  If only someone would water us.

Violets: We heard a group of volunteers were coming to our garden today.

Roses:  What are volunteers?

Violets:  Volunteers are wonderful!

Tulips:  They do whatever it takes to help us grow.

Roses:  Like what?

Violets:  They water us when we’re thirsty.

Roses:  Ahhh.  That would be nice.

Tulips:  And they read to us to help us learn.

Violets:  They even feed us when we’re hungry.

Roses:  That sounds fantastic.  Where do these volunteers grow?

Tulips:  They grow all over the place.

Violets:  But they have special hearts.

Roses:  What kind of hearts?

Tulips:  Hearts filled with kindness.

Violets:  Hearts that are caring.

Tulips:  Hearts that are patient.

Violets: And hearts that are daring!

(Volunteers Enter)

Roses:  We think we hear them! 

Tulips:  We can’t wait!

Volunteers enter carrying watering cans, plant food and books.  The flowers sway with happiness and sing.