Friday, July 22, 2005

A book signing? Who? Me?

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Though I love to craft and tell stories, ALL of which contain some kernel of truth, it seems that writing fiction is not my forte. I've written extensively on the ins and outs of taking photos of sports, creating scrapbook layouts on friendship and other vagaries of the paper arts world, for both online and print publications. My one fiction piece, published by a small press called Artella, still leaves me wondering why they chose to publish it. "Hope Disguised as Story," gag me! It probably isn't nearly so awful as my inner critic tells me, but still.

So it would seem that if I'm to be accepted as a Real Writer, my writing must cover non-fiction topics intended to encourage the readers to take even more photos than they already do, or to save even more trinkets than they already have. I've had a couple opportunities to venture out of this realm and have things published that go beyond saving photos and papers, though. I still consider my best piece to be one done at the request of the owners of a scrapbooking website, Scrapsahoy. Trisha wanted me to do an article on journaling, bringing to light my approach to family storytelling. That article has seen print in a modified form in the Northlands Storytelling Network Journal, and last I heard, would be a chapter in an anthology called The Encylopedia of Storytelling. Apparently, every so often I can pull one off that while it is still non-fiction, revolves around my first love of storytelling.

Last winter, I was given another shot at such writing. The National Storytelling Network has begun publishing a series of "slim volumes" on the how-tos of storytelling. One was in the works on telling stories to children. One topic they hoped to cover was telling stories to children with special needs. Well, shoot, that's my job description! While my personnel file at the School District of LaCrosse might say "speech pathologist," I was placed into my current assignment to use my storytelling skills with the kids lacking any of their own--children with Asperger's syndrome and kids with severe language disabilities. I sent my proposed outline to Betty Lehrman, the project editor, and was given the chance to summarize 25 years of observations in 900 words or less!

Clearly, I could say a lot more on the subject, but met the goal for this book. It is to be released this October, at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough Tennessee. I'm happy to say that I will be attending the festival for the very first time this year. Imagine the thrill when I opened an email just before leaving for Europe, asking if I'd be available to do book signings at the release!

So no, I have not written the Great American Novel. Heck, I've yet to write more than a mediocre American short story. Still, I will be celebrating one of my accumulating number of birthdays, signing books like a Real Writer. Congratulations to me!


At 3:43 PM, Anonymous Molly said...

Gwyn, that is so incredibly excellent! Congratulations to you... you are a talented writer of remarkable clarity and precision. 'N' stuff.

May this foreshadow more great things to follow... (and for what it's worth, I've had the same rather depressing experience with trying to get published in the non-paper arts arena... sigh).

At 8:49 AM, Blogger Tim said...

Congratulations, Gwyn! I can't make the Festival this year, but I am looking forward to the new NSN book

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