Friday, April 6, 2012
Getting It Right At Ninety--Elnora King
Spent an incredible evening celebrating writing teacher Elnora King's ninetieth birthday. I have eight mathematical adventure picture books in publication, two of which are listed as core literature for mathematics by the California State Department of Education, because this woman chose to accept me into her class. She suffered through my love of adjectives and adverbs, my bouts of drama and flouncing. She encouraged me through eighteen rejections.When I called to tell her I'd won a national contest with my little manuscript, she recognized "the voice" immediately. She'd received many such calls. When I handed her a copy of my first PUBLISHED BOOK with her name listed in the dedication, she placed it on a shelf beside many other books nurtured by and dedicated to her.
My fellow classmates and I walked into her regular Thursday night group. The plan was for us to gather at a neighbor's and walk in together, surprising her. And just who was it that thought a group of independent, crusty writers could do anything according to plan? We did manage to crowd into her familiar living room, eat candy and cake, sing Happy Birthday badly and try to tell her how she changed our lives by teaching us to submit "a reasonable effort." Elnora refused even one sentimental tear. Instead, she flirted with the darling, tuxedoed young man brought in to sing, "dig deeper" in fine operatic fashion.Those of us who have been away were chided about how we need to come back to class. Probably true, precious lady. Probably true.