Regaining my amateur status.
April 26, 2014 § 5 Comments
At first that life felt glamorous.
I was the traveling circus that pulled into town and when I walked into a school auditorium, classroom or library and stood beneath the Welcome Author Adrian Fogelin! banner and told my stories, everyone leaned forward in their chairs.
I knew that, just as they would with the fat lady, the two-headed dog and the man who could guess your weight to within a pound, the audience would tire of me if I hung around, but I never did, and no one expected me to.
As I pulled out of the school lot after my author visit, I often noticed that the marquee that had featured my name surrounded by exclamation points when I pulled in, now advertised a Friday night pizza fundraiser.
My job, in the short time I was there, was to stir things up, get kids excited about the elements of writing, show them how a “real” writer developed a character.
For the teachers I was at the least a break, and at best a tailwind, a new way of looking at the problem of literacy.
Listening to myself I heard that blowhard uncle who says, “Did I ever tell you the one about…” And then tells you “the one about” for the millionth time.
I have never had an author visit at which something memorable, something which will eventually percolate into a story, did not happen. Like the time I asked about the bald boy in a class and was told that he had shaved his head in solidarity with his mother who was undergoing chemo.
But being a one-woman circus wore thin. Continental breakfast in a Holiday Inn began to look sad, and sometimes I would survey a roomful of students and know, without a doubt, I had spoken to these same kids just the week before a couple of states away.
I missed my husband, my dog, and the disreputable but comfortable clothes I wore when not on display.
I’d be traveling in a car littered with fast food wrappers and be just as familiar with the wallpaper patterns in economy hotels.
Maybe the fallacy is considering a passion successful only if it is a money-producing job. One with glitz and fame attached.
There is a lot to be said for maintaining your amateur status, doing what you love because you love it, the small-change pay and occasional admiration a Lucky Strike extra.
Education dollars are in short supply and standardized tests abundant—who can waste time on an author visit when there are so many practice tests to take?
And maybe author visits, or author Adrian Fogelin were a bit of a fad, but for whatever reason, I do those visits less frequently—and I love them far more.
As I write this I am packing my bags for “Authors in April” an annual five-day school visit marathon in Rochester, Michigan, and I’m excited.
I haven’t told those old stories for a while, and life has given me a couple of new ones in the interim. And so I go, with the joy of an amateur taking her passion on the road.