"The reward of a thing well done, is to have done it."
Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803-1882
It's been a busy week since I got back from the island. No time to do my own writing. But there's been some rewards in it and a very big surprise!
One of the things I find most rewarding about being a writing instructor, is not only the interesting, talented people you meet, but taking on the role of 'mentor' to up-and-coming young writers. I had this kind of experience this week when I went to a local school and did a presentation for a program called "Off the Page." This is a special program involving B.C. writers who are chosen by the Federation to participate. It's the second time I've been selected and to me, this is a reward and a great honour.
This year I went to a grade seven class. The teacher requested I do something with an Egyptian theme, as the children have been studying Egypt. It happens that part of my novel is set in Egypt (Alexander the Great founded Alexandria; the famous Cleopatra is a descendant of the Macedonian royalty.) I had several objects including the carcass of a real scarab beetle to take for 'show and tell'. And I read to them from my novel Shadow of the Lion, a scene with the little son of Alexander and some Egyptian children. I talked to the class about how I did my research, my own interest in Egyptian history, including several visits to the British Museum to look at the Egyptian display (a room full of mummies!). I handed out photocopies of a picture of Cleopatra and her cartouche and also Alexander's cartouche.
As the teacher had requested I do a writing exercise with the class, I copied a fascinating Egytpian painting of a family on a fowling expedition in which they were using a retriever cat. Yes, a cat that retrieved birds. How novel! I asked the children to write a story about the picture.
The children were told by the teacher that they could plan their story by 'webbing' the plot or any way they wanted. I was quite impressed at how much about writing they knew. I had explained to them that I started writing historical fiction while in grade seven. Back then there was little or no encouragement for young writers like me. Things have certainly changed, and these children produced some excellent stories.
It was an enriching experience for me to be there to share my knowlege as a writer with the children, just as it has been for me teaching the night school adult classes. I have met some excellent people in my classes, and some wonderfully talented writers. What I can share with them, the encouragement I can give, is rewarding to me as well as helpful to them.
"Tell the boys I've got the Luck with me now."
Francis Brett Harte 1836-1902 "The Luck of Roaring Camp" 1868
Then, midweek, comes the Big Reward! When I got home yesterday afternoon there was a message from one of my travel writer friends. I thought it was about a workshop meeting we're having tomorrow. Instead, she said to me: "Pack your bags. You're going to Malaysia!"
I could hardly believe my ears. She told me then, that I had won an all expense paid trip to Malaysia, courtesy of Malaysian tourism and the Travel Writer's Association. I was completely flabbergasted! Several months ago there had been a Travel Writer's gala and one of the sponsors was Malaysian Tourism. The door prize, this trip, was won by another travel writer but after a few weeks it was announced he couldn't accept the prize so there was to be a redraw. I completely forgot my name was in the hat. So it was a total surprise to me yesterday when I was told I had won. This is my reward for all the FAM trips I've missed out on, the stories I've had published that paid little or no money, and all my hard work at my classes and with my own writing. Because this destination is one I've longingly looked over brochures about knowing I could never afford to go there on my shoestring budget. So now I am getting an all-expense paid trip, first class, and I can go any time within a year so it gives me lots of time to research it and orient myself.
These little unexpected blessings are my rewards for which am I truly grateful!
It makes all the hours sitting behind the computer and teaching classes worthwhile.
And I know there's more good things to come.
Even if I didn't get time to work on my novel this week, I still feel I've accomplished a lot. And the weekend's coming up with more play readings and social events. Somewhere in there I will try to get sometime else written...more of my novel and perhaps a new travel article to take to the workshop tomorow afternoon.
"...we find at the end of a perfect day
The soul of a friend we've made." Carrie Jacobs Bond 1862 - 1946