Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Where Dreams Become Reality

In the early 1970's, I had just been assigned to my first classroom as a sixth grade teacher and had just finished writing my very first children's manuscript to fulfill a life-long dream. I read the story to my students as a classroom-read-aloud book just after the lunch recess each day for weeks. My heart jumped as I watched the positive reaction in my students. I asked several teachers if they would do same in their classrooms. The results were exactly the same.

Without further hesitation, I approached a major publishing house with my sure fire children's hit and
couldn't wait to see the book on shelves everywhere. My first response from the publishing house was a positive review and they passed it on to a second reader. This reader wasn't sure and gave it to a third reader. It was this reader that finally issued the rejection of the manuscript. My confidence was totally shattered. I placed the manuscript in my closet at home and stopped writing altogether.

And then it happened one day after school. Wilson Rawls, author of Where The Red Fern Grows came to see me. Wilson was well-aware of my frustrations and disappointments. He sat down with me, placed a cardboard box on my lap, and lifted the lid. My eyes must have been huge! Inside the box was page after page of the Where The Red Fern Grows handwritten without any punctuation or capitalization. Wilson explained to me that he would write the manuscript day after day with only paper and a pencil, then his wife would come along and correct it for him. Despite his hardships getting the book done, Wilson knew how important it was for children to hear the story. And then he told me... "In the end... all that is important is that we - the author - just tell the story!

"And that is why I write stories!" - J Richard Knapp

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