Friday, June 22, 2007

Generosity

Today one of my professors called me "incredibly intelligent." Ha. Coincidentally we dissected a children's book called Neenie Coming, Neenie Going where the protagonist is full of herself because she lives in the city now and is visiting her family on a small island off the coast of South Carolina. In one picture she looms over her grandmother and cousin because her "head is so big." So today I'm kind of like this:
Just be glad that you don't have to witness it for yourself. The whole reason it came up was because I volunteered to be on this Southern Humanities Council that one of her colleagues is operating and she has to fill out a recommendation form for me. Since she has only known me for a total of six hours of class time, I asked her if she wanted me to send her a resume or something to help her find some things to talk about. She said that she'd think about it and get back to me because she already had some sense of my abilities and that's when she gave me the ego boost that frankly I needed because I'm among a lot of very talented writers and it was nice to know someone sees some potential in me.

Now on to why I called this entry "generosity." I went to a reading tonight by Nancy Ruth Patterson who is one of the most engaging speakers I have ever encountered. Funny. Personal. Encouraging. She had "presence," as I like to say. She did say one thing that I will definitely take with me though and that is the idea that our writing should be seen as an act of generosity rather than as a means of earning an income or entertaining others. This idea goes along with her belief that writers should write their dedication page first because then their work truly is a gift to someone--the person he/she dedicated the book to. For some reason that makes my first novel easier to write because I know who I want to write the book for and I know why I want to "give" them that sort of novel. So a book that was about fun in my mind is now a testament to the way someone lived his/her life.

Tomorrow I get to see my husband, which is also why my head and smile are so big right now. I will not be updating until Sunday when I get back from the exciting town of Danville, VA, where we will be rendezvousing tomorrow in an effort to shorten a 3.5 hour drive for one person to 1.5 to 2 hour drives for both of us. I have no idea what we're going to do in Danville for 24 hours, but, you know what, I really don't care. After this visit, it will be two weeks before I see Bryan again so I am going to try really hard to enjoy every minute and leave my computer at Hollins along with whatever novel I should be reading this weekend.

I will leave you with some of Nancy Ruth Patterson's beautiful words:

"Because I do remember so many people from my own life fondly, I keep on writing, even though it is usually a struggle for me. I do not ever want the goodness I have found in life to be lost. I want the best I know of life—the strength of my mother and the optimism of my father, the goodness of my grandmother and the honesty of my grandfather, the spirit of my brother and the faith of my friends, my gratitude for my students and the encouragement from my editors—to live on through the characters in my books. I want the lives of those I love to live on through my words. That, quite simply, is why I am a writer."

3 comments:

Bryan said...

A powerful speaker is surely an amazing thing. I saw someone give a talk this week that amazed me and made me wish I was capable of conveying complex ideas and motivating people as well as he could. I'm glad you're being introduced ro such amazing people. Although I miss you it is worth it!

Bryan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jacqui said...

Magistra... thank you! ... The piece of perspective you shared with us from Ms. Patterson is incredibly inspirational. It gives me something to look forward to and someone's eyes to brighten up... I've always got fantastic ideas but, never know who or what I'm writing for, you know? You better keep that big head in check lol, it could get you in trouble one day