I received much advice and support from fellow writers throughout the process of writing, editing, and promoting Breath of Wilderness that when someone asks for my advice or support I feel it’s the least I can do. I also feel a calling to share Sig’s message with whoever I can.
This fall Melanie Lang, a 9th grader at Willow River Public School in Willow River, Minnesota, wrote a letter asking if I’d ever consider visiting her school to speak about writing. She told me that she loves writing and has already written five books, but that she’s thrown them away, because “they weren’t any good.” She also said that she loves to write because she has lots of stories to tell. Truth be told, I had no idea where Willow River even is so I looked it up and found that it’s a long hike from northwestern Minnesota. Yet, I hoped to find a way to visit. I contacted Melanie’s teacher and eventually we set up a time to speak to the 9th grade Careers class.
When I arrived at Melanie’s school, I learned that she had ordered my book, but hadn’t received it yet. How had she heard of me, I wondered. Goodreads, she told me. Huh.This surprised me. I occasionally check out Goodreads for book suggestions, but I had no expectation that it could lead someone to find me or Breath of Wilderness. I spoke to the class about the writing process and my book, specifically, and answered many questions. Melanie and I talked afterwards and I encouraged her to keep writing and reading.
Later that afternoon, I met Grace Wenck. Grace is 11 and attends Bailey Elementary in Woodbury, Minnesota. I know Grace’s dad and he’d asked if I would sit down with Grace and talk about writing. Grace also wants to be a writer. She’s a voracious reader of mostly fiction, but some non-fiction if it’s written well, she disclosed. Grace told me that she has many ideas and starts lots of stories, but doesn’t usually finish them. Grace had prepared a list of questions for me and took notes as I answered. I was impressed with Grace’s enthusiasm and thoroughness and enjoyed hanging out with her.
I loved meeting these girls. I love their drive, their creativity, their dedication, their desire to learn more about writing, their wit and sense of humor and their smarts. I’m tempted to say what I love most about writing the book has been the connections I’ve made with kids. But, that isn’t exactly true. There are many amazing and fulfilling aspects of writing the book and it’s hard to rank them, but this is definitely in the top five.
The best of luck to Grace and Melanie. I know they will do well. I, for one, am anxiously waiting to read their future masterpieces.