Yesterday we had the honor and privilege of welcoming a celebrity into our 5th grade classroom. This celebrity is a parent of one of my students this year, and would never refer to herself as such. She is rather quiet and shy, and would hardly get recognized or mobbed publicly as would be the case with most celebrities. So as I began thinking about other ways to describe her, these words came to mind: prestigious, notable, idol, and hero. Hers is not a profession that most would credit with celebrity status. However in my eyes, she certainly holds this distinction. She is a published author.
As she spoke to the students, I found myself hanging on to every piece of advice she had to offer like a teenage fan gazing at her favorite idol. For me, meeting someone who has actually been through the process of book publishing brought up feelings of excitement, envy, and adrenaline- the same feelings associated with being near a celebrity whom you adore. In essence, I was star struck. I could recognize that the excitement she elicited from me stemmed from my own desire to become a published author. More importantly though, the feelings she stirred up were born because of the understanding I have of what it took for her to be a published author. In fact, she said something during her visit that stuck with me. Five small words, coming from this quiet, and seemingly shy person: “Writers need to be strong.” Strong indeed. We can all acknowledge the tremendous amount of dedication and effort necessary to write, edit, and market any piece of writing. However the bigger challenge that writers face arises when the writing, editing and marketing is complete, when it leaves the writer’s hands. This is when a writer needs to be strong. Every reader is a critic of the words they pen. After muddling through the writing process for weeks, months, sometimes years, authors often face rejection and harsh critiques. This has definitely been the biggest obstacle for me. I have always known that about myself, that I am not someone who likes to be judged, especially after pouring my heart and soul into the words that I craft.
Therefore, as I listened to this author yesterday, my respect for her grew immensely. She told the class that she had her first book published at the age of 17. This shy mother of two, residing in a small town with simply “a love for reading and writing.” (And the ability to be strong). From where I sit, she is noble. She is a hero. She is notable and worthy of holding the distinction of being a celebrity.