Last night the kids and I went on a milk run. As we skidded to the dairy aisle, a tall, dark young man caught the corner of my eye. Something about the way he looked at us triggered my flee response. Granted, my flee response is triggered by everyone doing pretty much anything. I swished past but a few seconds later with a gallon of milk in my hand, he approached.
“Are you an author?”
(Does it show?) “Yes. I am.”
“You came to my class once.”
Ah! We chatted. He, respectfully. Me, loudly. I was nervous. I’m always nervous when I’m talking to people, and particularly if it’s a student of mine. (I consider all young ‘uns who have read my work or whose class I have visited to be my students.) I found out what school he was going to now, expressed disappointment that he felt it wasn’t academically rigorous. “Like daycare” he said. I found out that he was on the football team though he had no professional aspirations. Smart kid. I encouraged him to do everything he could to be competitive academically so he could choose a great college. He reminded me that I had read a story of his which helped me place him. I had conducted a writing workshop. I even remembered his story. It was called “Monia.” It was really good. I encouraged him to keep writing. Then we parted ways.
See, this is one of the things I like about being a writer. Here was a kid in the dairy aisle at ShopRite that I could encourage, that maybe I could make a difference to. I’m sure he didn’t remember my name, and in years to come he might not even remember having bumped into me at the grocery, but I’m sure he will remember the encouragement. I hope it will be something in the chinks of his memory that helps to motivate him even if it’s in the smallest way. And it was all because once, I had written this book.
I hope I can always spark something in my readers. It’s one of the many reasons I like doing school visits. The effects stretch further than the one-day experience.