Aside from battling the flu, allergies, and miserable weather like everyone else, I’ve maintained a busy schedule these past seven months. I completed the writing of my YA novel, Mr. Charon, edited the work until I grew cross-eyed, and then fought off anxiety attacks while beta readers reviewed it. Along with my volunteer activities to assist children with their reading skills at an elementary school in my community, I was asked to coach a Second Grade Creative Writing Team for their participation in UIL (University Interscholastic League) competition. And this was all followed with a fantastic literature project in which AP (Advanced Progress) high school seniors reviewed my novel, Mr. Charon, and provided their insights on the young adult book.
Looking back, I realize how valuable those experiences were to me (regardless of the long hours and anxieties.) Mr. Charon is now off to the editor and publisher for their reviews, the second graders bravely stepped forward and took part in the UIL competition, and the AP high school students renewed my faith in the existence of intelligence during the teen years. Their candid reviews were excellent feedback for an author.
While I cannot speak much about my YA novel, Mr. Charon, because it must undergo further trials and await an official public debut, I can say that the book was received exceptionally well by all ‘test’ audiences and I’m eager for its release.
With regard to my reading and mentoring volunteer work and Creative Writing coaching with elementary children, I reaped many rewards. The children’s smiles alone are worth their weight in gold. This is my fifth year of volunteering to work with elementary school children. It affords me the opportunity to be involved with our educational process (to a degree) both as an observer and participant. I’m able to interface with sincerely dedicated and wonderful teachers who struggle within the constraints of low pay, restricted resources, and increasing testing and educational demands on their time. But most of all, I’m hopefully touching at least one child in a way that will spur them on to be far more than they ever dreamed possible in their lives.
As for the AP high school students—well, I was truly impressed. They took the literature project seriously, wrote their reviews with thought, and expressed their opinions with maturity (often far more than I’ve seen in reviews of various authors’ works on social media outlets.) During my recent morning talk with the students and their teacher, I observed the positive connection and educated environment between them, and how such supported their individual growths. That was accomplished through love, dedication, and the professionalism of their teacher.
When I returned to being a novelist after a career in security management, I never realized how many personal rewards I would receive or the doors that would be opened to me because of it. And I purposely left teachers unnamed in this writing for fear of overlooking someone, but I’m confident they will know I’m speaking about them if they read this.
Pay it forward. I’m a strong proponent of volunteering in your community to help others. Everyone has a talent they can share. It’s simply a matter of finding a spot in the world where your skills and kindness can best be applied. At the elementary school where I volunteer, I’m only one of many.
In hindsight, I want to apologize to my own teachers of long ago for the misery I dealt them while a student. I’m sure I was responsible for many of them needing therapy, developing a drinking problem or drug dependence. But, to the one that said I would never accomplish anything in my life—I proved you wrong many times over….