Progress… and Audiences

I’ve finished (finished? ha ha ha ha) the edits on The Schneebelis Go to America aka The Price. It’s been a long haul but I don’t think I can bitch with any justification because no one is making me do this and it’s a purely elective and rather minor activity in the grand scheme. In the scheme of my life, though, it’s pretty important, I guess.

I don’t think the book is very good, but I’ve done what I often do, I’ve gone to a self-publishing platform and I’m “publishing” one copy so I can see it as a book and do a read through in a different format than this screen or 8 1/2 x 11 pages.

I’m still not sure if I’ll go to the trouble of trying to sell it. The books I’ve already written didn’t (and don’t) sell so why would I?

Am I discouraged? No, not in the least. Since 1998 when I began writing Martin of Gfenn (that’s 20 years ago) I’ve gone through a very wide range of experiences as a writer. I suppose it’s a kind of maturation. Martin of Gfenn is my best book, but it still has typos. The other two novels benefited from professional editing. And I consider My Everest to be another thing completely.

I can’t answer for why other people write. I write because I like to, that’s the biggest thing. If it works it’s just a lot of fun. When I was teaching, writing was a thing apart from hours and hours in the classroom, and it was something at which I could succeed on some level. Teaching remained a career where I never got tenure and constantly taught part-time — not my fault, it didn’t mean I was a bad teacher, it just made more sense economically for schools to hire part-time vs. tenured faculty. That frustration and relentless impotence about my future was good training for submitting novels to agents.

But there are other audiences and different successes. A few years ago I decided I wanted my one remaining (in her right mind) aunt, the youngest of my mother’s sisters, to know who I am. I had a very intense feeling she needed to know that I was OK, that I have a good life and a little something about what I do. I sent her Martin of Gfenn which she loved. I followed it with Savior and The Brothers Path and explained that those two novels were fiction based on what I knew about my grandma’s family — my Aunt Dickie’s mother’s family. — our family. She loved The Brothers Path and had her church book club read it.

Her last letter to me was March 2017, and in it, she told me how the book club had liked the book and what was going on in her life. And she asked me to keep writing the story of my grandma’s family. Whether this book is any good or not, my Aunt Dickie would have liked it. She died just before Thanksgiving last year.


13 thoughts on “Progress… and Audiences

  1. I think if it brings you joy, that is reason enough. But I am sure your Aunt Dickie’s words stay in your mind, too. My Everest was such a great read, Martha.

  2. I think it is lovely that she knew you would continue to write before her passing and now it seems ectra special to continue writing in her memory 💜

    • She wanted me to write the rest of the story. I’m stopping at this moment in the saga. I wish she’d lived to read it, but she got a very aggressive kind of cancer last fall and chose to go into hospice care rather than endure dragged out and ultimately hopeless treatment. She was a brave woman and I liked her very much. ❤

  3. Your a fabulous writer and as long as it brings you joy, that’s the important thing. At least that’s how I look at it. I may not be spectacular but I enjoy what I’m doing so I keep going. You have enjoyed an interesting life. Who knows, perhaps one day, after your long gone, people will say, OMG I hope they valued her way back when! sorry couldn’t resist but it happens often, doesn’t it?

  4. I have returned to substitute teaching, K-6. There is a big demand for substitutes. I could work every day for most of the school year but I don’t want to.

    Was talking to some of the full time staff and they say substitutes are now a way of avoiding hiring teachers. There’s a 4 hour program in the afternoon called After School Enrichment. Basically it is being used as free baby sitting for parents who can’t pick their kids up at 2:45. It is supposed to be done by certificated employees and they are supposed to be teaching during that time. Instead we have substitutes (who are technically “certificated” because we have a 4 year degree, passed the CBEST and aren’t known criminals) being rotated in and out of the schedule randomly. We rarely get to see the same kids twice.

    I am 99% of the way to a completed class for an emergency teaching credential. If I pushed, I’m sure I’d get it with trivial additional effort. My previous experience dissuaded me from that. Something about having my tires slashed and my car keyed by what had to be an unhappy student…. I am much too old now to handle students full time now.

    It is rough and I have a particular problem with remembering names. Teacher just said all I had to do was keep the noise to a dull roar, have them do whatever activity they were interested in, prevent physical injuries, and move them around the campus according to schedule. When I suggested to a couple students that I was reporting them to their teacher for misbehavior, they were not impressed. This sure isn’t the kind of school my kids grew up with and far far from what I grew up with. Can’t say if it is better or worse.

    The one good thing is that they got to play games on the computer for an hour. Things got very quiet. We had a couple of 6th graders helping out. I could consider computer time to be enrichment but I suspect as soon as they got back home they’d be on a computer again with less savory games.

    This is a very chunky collection of kids. There are not kids whose parents order them go outside and play and don’t dare come back before sunset. For their health it would be better just to turn them loose on the playground for the 4 hours.

    My very best memory of working with children was decades ago when I was doing one on one reading tutoring. I made a difference. I took 5th grader who looked sour every time someone said to read and got him looking forward to reading Goosebumps books with me. “Island of the Blue Dolphins” was completely uninteresting to him. I figured it was better to get him loving to read *something* than to make sure he was reading Newbery Award winners.

    I couldn’t do it the same way today. An adult is not allowed to be alone in the same room with a student even if the door is open.

    • It’s a new teaching world and teachers are no longer respected as they were once. I’ve thought of subbing at the local high school — and I might. I’ve realized that since my hip was fixed a lot of what kept me from wanting to do stuff like that was immobility; everything just took so long and often hurt. Now it doesn’t. We’ll see. I could use the $$.

      Good luck!!!!!

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