I’ve been meaning to write to you for a very long time, but somehow life (which has a tendency to get messy) always got in the way. But I’m here now and there are a few things I want you to know.
Many years back, my late husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Our family doctor told me caretaking can be a very bumpy ride so I’d best find something to do at home that I loved, something to take me out of the caretaker’s world for an hour or two, something that brings me joy, because caretaking an Alzheimer’s patient can last for years. Did he say years?????
After getting past the shock of it all, I began to ponder my options. Then, one day, I knew what I wanted to do…learn how to write a novel. But how? A friend of mine offered a solution: take online writing classes. What’s online? And from whom? was my answer! He explained the online thing was via computer (which I did not have), and the teaching recommendation was a school called Gotham out of New York City. I have to learn to work a computer…Oh, good Lord; I’ll never be able to do that!
Well, lo and behold, a month later and after practically having a computer tech move in with me, I was ready to sign in to my very first writing class. Gotham was very good about keeping its instructions on how to send in your homework or contact your teacher rather simple, thank goodness, but I was still very nervous that I would do something wrong and my homework would end up in outer space and not on my teacher’s desk. But I sent it off according to directions and I waited to see if it reached its destiny. I guess I was expecting some form of notice, like your homework has arrived or something, so when I got nothing back I began to worry and decided to re-send…still nothing of reassurance the document in question had reached its destination. After a few more tries, I finally emailed my teacher saying, “Did my homework arrive?”
The answer was, “Yes, Patti. All 7 times.”
That was the beginning of my relationship with one of the best teachers ever for a new, first time writing student.
Season Harper-Fox is her name. She has the wonderful ability of correcting your mistakes (ones that most new writers make) without it sounding like criticism or crushing the budding writer’s spirit. She finds something good to say about your attempted prose no matter how inept, awkward or outside the box it may be. Just enough of a critique dusted with a little praise to keep you energized and hopeful in your endeavors. I was very lucky to have gotten her as my beginning teacher.
Our student/teacher relationship grew into a unique friendship that has lasted over several decades. We have shared events of great happiness, sorrow, pain…the death of parents, trials and tribulations of child rearing, divorce, self-doubt, and just about all the usual ups and downs of the human condition.
The unique part of this friendship is, she is as dear to me as any other friendship I have face to face, and yet I have never heard her voice or seen her in person. I told her not long ago I am putting her on my bucket list.
There is one other teacher I must mention as one of Gotham’s finest and that is Carole Bugge. She is a strong, confident, encouraging individual who (with my other teacher) challenged my creativity and endurance and made me believe I could do the impossible: actually write my first novel.
The writing, editing, and re-writes seemed to go on forever. Season helped me to polish up my ragged draft into publisher-ready, and just as it reached a professional condition, I got very sick. So sick I wasn’t sure I would be around long enough to go through the standard process of sending out query letters, sample chapters, waiting for months just to hear it had been rejected and then starting all over again.
So I decided to partner with Page Publishing Company who accepted my novel and after many months of all the things a manuscript must go through to become a book (more editing, art work, cover art work, etc.), my book was finally published in the spring of 2019…The Shingle Weaver’s Picnic, by P.C. Smith.
My reviews on the book have been outstanding. One reviewer has even likened my novel in quality and writing to that of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Another reviewer said if he were a man of means he would buy the rights to my book in a New York minute. I have been so amazed and overwhelmed by these fantastic reviews…to say I’m pleased is an understatement. But I thought you should know it is because of Gotham and your outstanding faculty that at the age of 85 years I have written my first novel and a second is on the way.
Thank you and my wonderful teachers, Season Harper-Fox and Carole Bugge, and may your success as an outstanding school for writers of any genre continue into the future.