World stop spinning, my Amazon author page is live! Every writer who has ever penned a novel must get a secret tingle when their sales shingle is slung up on Amazon.com. While Amazon has had a few pricing wars with publishing houses, it (along with Barnes & Noble) remain the hub of online book sales. (Yes, dear readers. I prefer independent book stores.)
More than 36 months have passed since I started writing my debut novel Waving Backwards, and its ‘at-last’ appearance on Amazon.com has me reflecting on my first taste of literary notoriety.
I took to writing in elementary school. I started with a journal, which I addressed to a secret confidant named Lovey. I shared with Lovey my pop-star crushes, and secret wishes. Unlike my friends, a fair amount of my childhood journal was about heaven, hell, and dreams of finding my biological family. The writing was heartfelt and heavy.
However, my first notoriety as a writer was light and lovely. In a suburban New York classroom, I watched as my 4th grade teacher tacked up a poster that would launch me into the dangerous world of elementary school gossip. The shiny poster showed a fierce looking polar bear perched on a glacial plain. All eyes stared when the teacher announced, “Girls and boys, we are having a poetry contest.”
Youthful chatter and enthusiasm bubbled. I was the rhyming queen, and sure that I would win the poster, and colored pencil set. All I had to do was write a poem about the subject. Easy, peasy! This is what I turned in the following day-
Did you ever see a polar bear,
so big, white and furry?
I’d sure hate to be in one’s way,
when it’s in a hurry.
Not exactly Shakespeare, but it did the trick. In front of the entire class, I was presented with a first place certificate and badge. The teacher had me read my poem (my first public reading). It was a dazzling moment, until…Tommy told a lie.
To my utter disbelief, Tommy Sciarello (name changed to protect the not-so-innocent) raised his hand and said, “Miss Anderson, I read that poem in a magazine.” Glaring he continued, “She copied it.”
In shock, I defended myself. “I did not.” I started to cry. Miss Anderson pried the certificate from my hand saying, ‘Well Tommy, plagiarism is a serious accusation. I will look into it. Please be seated, Vicki-lynn.”
Sideward stares and whispers plagued me for the rest of the day. Lunch was hell. Noone wanted to sit with ‘the cheater’. I went home and cried to my mother. She consoled me, telling me that the teacher had called, and was assured that I had not stolen the poem.
The next day, Miss Anderson reinstated my prize, certificate and badge. She also posted my name on the bulletin board with a gold emblem that said ‘winner’. She admonished Tommy, and explained to the class the meaning of plagiarism and why it should be taken seriously. I beamed for a week, and waved a colored pencil at Tommy every time I passed his desk.
While my Amazon.com author page is thrilling, the lessons learned from my first (somewhat public) writing accomplishment will always hold a special place in my heart.
Blessings that boys with crushes never try to crush you,