Friday, February 19, 2010

Me? A middle grade author?

"There was no one around. No one would know. If I cut, maybe it would release the pain he has caused me. Maybe it would heal my broken heart."

"His eyes were pale, pained hopeless and his Manson t shirt was torn down the center and stitched back together with dozens of safety pins. Was this the state of his soul? Held together by something sharp and painful? His eyebrow twitched, he spit at my feet and turned and walked away. This was the boy I loved."

"My ten biggest fears are not unlike most teens. They're pretty normal, I guess. But most girls my age don't walk down a dark, narrow path toward each one and stare it in the face and say ---. Sigh. But, neither do I. And that will be my downfall. My certain death."

"Do it," she said as she shoved the pipe in my face. Everything I was prepared to say in this situation, everything that was right dispersed like the fingers of smoke burning my eyes. I took it. I sucked in its poison. It felt ugly inside my lungs. I could feel it clawing to get out. But right now this was the only thing in my life I had control of so I held it."

This is me now. Michelle.

My entire life has been spent reaching out to others. Growing up, I was the Dear Abby of my graduating class. My parents invited friends of mine and my sister's to live with us when they had no where to turn. I was a high school art teacher right out of college who took one special student (a foster child) under her wing and helped her through what we both thought would be the most harrowing experience of violence and disappointment she would have to go through. Only to find out years later, it was a good thing we kept in touch because even as an adult she needed me again. And again. Even though there are only 10 years that separate us, she remains my unofficial first child.

And my years as a foster mom will be burned in my brain forever. Especially the words I once heard from a case worker, "Well, that's the group home for those kids no one wants. You know, the ones between 10 and 13." (insert stabbing pain)

Currently, I teach a 5th and 6th grade program at our church, preparing kids to make wise choices to give them the best shot at life and I also teach an after school art club at our local middle school.

So, why do I write these ideas and chapters down for Young Adult and Middle Grade books but continue to pursue the picture book market?

When editors tell me that my voice is unique and real but my manuscripts are too deep, why does that light bulb not click on?

I just read a post on Molly O'Neill's blog. Molly is an editor at HarperCollins and apparently she and I share the same life's mission, the same burning desire to make a difference in the lives of the lost.

Thank you, Molly. Now, excuse me while I head to that MG Word Doc that is now calling my name.

(So, my faithful may have just witnessed a turning point... a big one)

Those of you who have children in the 'tween/teen range, please speak your piece. Tell me what you are thinking right now.



MaBunny said...

wow Michelle. I can say I understand where that piece was going. As the mom of an 11 yr old - it scared the crap out of me.
However, it shows a sign of the times of today, and yesterday. When kids aren't taught how to properly handle their feelings. No matter what back ground they are from.
Reading that little excerpt made my heart truly ache.
Bravo for writing it.

Anonymous said...

My daughter is 13 and not "lost" and it scares me to think about her reading any of those books!

My Semblance of Sanity said...

Thanks MaBunnY! :) You're a great cheerleader!

Anonymous... these books would be FOR those kids who are lost to give them hope, show them it's never too late to make a change, or to tranform into something lovely.

If your daughter is not "lost" then I would hope she wouldn't have the NEED to read any of these books.

That's the beauty of books - you pick what you like and stay away from what you don't.

I would never be krass enough to hope EVERY child read my books. I write for those who NEED it. And pray they are someday in the category of those who DON'T.

Blessings to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Keep working from your heart!