Yesterday I began a high school visit by saying “I wrote THE WAY BACK FROM BROKEN about the hardest, saddest thing that ever happened to me–the death of my daughter.”
After my talk, one student asked me about the insensitive things people say in the book. “Are they real or did you make them up?”
I told him about being at work after she died and how people would see me coming down the hall and turn around so they wouldn’t have to talk to me.
“That’s how terrifying I was,” I told him. “That’s how scary grief is.”
Afterwards, a young man came up to me and said, “I want to give you hug. If I had been in that hall, I never would have turned away.”
And he gave me a hug and I hugged him back and I managed not to cry. The kindness–such kindness–what grace.
And to those of you who didn’t turn away (you know who you are), I am so grateful to you. You saved my life.
One of the great joys of writing for children is being a visiting author at schools. I spent all day last Thursday at Highland Elementary School, and let me tell you, I was feeling the love!
The teachers and librarian had done an amazing job of preparing the kids for my visit. They knew my books and they knew me. As soon as I entered the building, the whispers began.
“There she is!”
“That’s Amber Keyser!”
“She’s the author!”
I did a presentation about wilderness canoeing based on PADDLE MY OWN CANOE for the K-3 classes. With the 4-5s, I gave my talk on writing comics: TELLING STORIES IN WORDS AND PICTURES. This was in preparation for Family Write Night. About 20 kids came back with their families to make 8-page mini comics with me.
I had such a great time.
It is easy to get bogged down as a writer. We are alone a lot and thus able to fret in isolation about deadlines, how well our books are selling (or not selling), whether we’ll ever write another, bad reviews (good reviews), whether we will ever make a living doing this… (Feel free to add to this happy list.)
But the great thing about school visits is that to these kids I might as well be J.K. Rowling. They were so excited to meet a “real” author. They chanted the refrain of my book as I read. They gave me hugs. They wrote me fan mail. They lined up to ask for my autograph. In other words, they made me feel great.
I know the kids at Highland had a good time when I was there, but they probably don’t know how much being with them meant to me. Thank you, Highland Elementary Students, for reminding me why writing for children is the best job in the world!
Having fun with Scriva Liz at Author Day!
Last week I had a great school visit to James John Elementary School. You can get the inside scoop on Mr. Leach’s fantastic third grade blog! The killer librarian at James John had a canoe AND a tent in the library in honor of my visit! Go, Robin!