Day 8: Connecting

My high school English teacher read the Day 7 post, the one in which I wrote that she told students we had important and relevant things to say.

That is the problem with blogging. At some point, you make a remark, a perfectly innocent remark, and the person you remarked about happens across it and reads it and calls you on it. Especially if you link the post to Facebook, and that person is one of your friends.

Anyway, said English teacher (who taught me in grades 8, 10, 11, and 12, so you see what we were both up against) asked whether she really said relevant and important, or whether she said, “Hush up and write.”

I admit it. “Hush up and write” was more her style.

And I really went overboard with relevant. I don’t think anyone I knew said relevant. It was one of those television words, ubiquitous and meaningless. The curriculum wasn’t relevant. School wasn’t relevant.

Relevant isn’t complete in itself. It needs something more. Relevant to what? And in whose opinion?

The 60s didn’t get to my part of Texas until late. And being as contrary then as I am now, I rebelled against the rebellion.

According to my husband, people should never send e-mails they wouldn’t want Ted Koppel to read on the air. David is correct. That goes for Facebook and blogs and all media, I’m sure.

Although I agree with his policy, however, I don’t follow it. Anyone who has read this blog knows that.

My one hope is that any potential employer who googles me and reads my work understands self-deprecating humor.

In other words, I’m neither as dumb nor as ditsy as I portray myself. Fiction is fiction and fact is fact, and in between there is irony.

If hired, I will be on time, work through breaks and lunch and do overtime, meet deadlines, take a personal interest in my work, and play well with others. I will spell correctly and use the serial comma. And I will not write about you on my blog.

I’ve been thinking about starting every post with that paragraph. Especially the post about my hereditary tendency to burn toast.

Although I write about my flaws, or pseudo-flaws, I am a private person. I want to choose what I tell and when and to whom. I don’t appreciate Facebook’s rabid desire to help me extend my social circle. I really really don’t appreciate Facebook’s sharing my information and not telling me, or making it difficult for me to lock down information I don’t want to share with people I don’t know.

There are days when I would like to close the account completely–as if that were possible, given FB’s determination not to delete it–but I’m in too deep. Closing out of FB would be like disconnecting both the telephone and the television. I don’t use either appliance very often, but giving them up would put me completely out of the loop.

No more pictures of Kenna wearing her little pink hat and grinning.

No more surprise messages from students I haven’t seen in years.

I’ve had the good fortune to “connect” with two women I first knew when they students. They were back-to-back winners of the Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Contest, Young Adult Division. One has signed a book contract with a publisher. The other recently signed with an agent.

When their books come out, I’ll be jumping up and down.

I hope the high school from which they graduated will honor them by inviting them back to speak to current students. I hope the elementary and middle schools do the same.

I hope the school district makes a BIG DEAL of their accomplishments.

Let me say that again.

I hope the school district makes a BIG DEAL of their accomplishments.

Not for the writers’ sake, but for the sake of children who need to see that telling stories is important, that publishing a book is an event to be celebrated, that kids who once sat in those same classrooms grew¬† up to be writers.

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Texas Book Festival

 

Enjoying a good book at the 2009 Texas Book Fe...
Image via Wikipedia

 

I just told David that if he would accompany me through the author and book tents at the Texas Book Festival, I would treat him to breakfast at the restaurant of his choice.

Who could resist such an offer? Not my husband.

This is not surprising, since it’s after 2:00 p.m. and so far all he’s had today is coffee.

We spent yesterday morning at 15 Minutes of Fame, writing, and most of the afternoon at Austin Java with three other Famers, talking about writing, graduate school, surgery, a blue cheese hamburger, and whatever else came along. When all was said and done, mostly said, time for visiting TBF had flown.

In the past, we’ve had good times there. We’ve heard Ted Koppel, Scott Turow, Lucian K. Truscott, and John R. Erickson, author of the Hank the Cowdog (Head of Ranch Security) series.

One year I sat on the floor of the House Chamber and listened to Elmer Kelton. While I was waiting for the program to start–I’d gotten there extra early to get a seat down front–Liz Carpenter came in and sat right behind me. I was too shy to turn around and say hello, of course, even though I knew Ms. Carpenter would be pleased if I did. She wasn’t shy at all.

Another year in the House Chamber, I heard Horton Foote. His soft voice and slow drawl–true Southern, unmixed with Texas twang–was music, just like his words on the page.

I won’t get to hear Kelton or Foote, or anyone quite like them, again. Or Liz Carpenter either.

So I’m grateful that the TBF allowed me to see them up close, to feel that for just a moment, they knew I was there, thanking them for the pleasure their books and plays and mere existence had given me over the years.

Now we’re one our way to walk through the tents, visit with some writers we know, buy a few books, help support TBF’s grant program for public libraries, and celebrate the printed word.

Then on to an omelet at the restaurant of David’s choice.