A day to celebrate our favorite authors
November 1, 2022
For those of us who are compelled to write, it’s nice to know that there is a National Author’s Day. Today, November First, is that day. The event was created by a woman who, as an avid reader, wanted to thank one particular author for writing a book she absolutely loved.
The Infallible Wikipedia, however, snubs this topic so I cite NationalToday.com for the following information:
“In 1928, the president of the Illinois Women’s Club, Nellie Verne Burt McPherson, came up with the idea to create a day that recognized American authors. She was an educator and quite an avid reader. The inspiration for the holiday came while she was in the hospital during the First World War. She had just read Irving Bacheller’s ‘Eben Holden’s Last Day A-Fishing’ and sent a letter to him expressing her love for the book.
After receiving the letter, responded by forwarding a signed copy of another one of his stories to her. McPherson, overwhelmed by his generosity, thought of a way to repay the gesture. She concluded that a National day for authors would do the trick and presented the idea to the Generation Federation of Women’s Clubs. The club approved, and in May 1929, issued an endorsement to celebrate American Authors on National Author’s Day.”
It actually took another 20 years before the US Department of Commerce acknowledged the day. After McPherson died in 1968, her granddaughter – Sue Cole – picked up the torch and encourages people to send notes to their favorite authors to thank them for their contributions which help make life a little bit brighter.
I love hearing the stories from people as to ‘when’ they knew they were – at heart – writers. Each of us comes to it in our own time and our own way but there is a universal thread. Writers are compelled to write. For those who are not compelled to write, perhaps that compunction does not seem obvious.
One of my earliest memories is receiving a ‘desk diary’ from my grandfather for a Christmas present. In reality, it was a marketing give away for his insurance company. For me it was an invitation to unlock the thoughts which coursed through my brain. My seven year old self, of course, did not possess the vocabulary or the skill to produce anything of value. Mostly, I was frustrated by my inabilities.
And yet, I was compelled to write, even if the writing was bad.
It was the fall of 2004 when the journey to author a book really took hold. It had been years in the making as the need to write things down was ever present. While I cannot recall the date of when I knew I needed to compose fiction, I do recall this odd thing which had started to occur.
At night I had the habit of reading to bring my brain ‘down’ before going to sleep. Most nights I would fall asleep with the book still in front of me, only waking up a bit later to set it aside.
One night when I reawakened, I clearly recalled that I was dreaming about the book I had been reading. But instead of my brain following the plot which the author had written, I had ‘rewritten’ one of the scenes in my mind!
Soon, instead of being engaged by stories others had written, my own imagination began to craft characters and plots.
I enrolled in a novel writing course at Bellevue Community College. It was being taught by author Janet Lee Carey. On October 5, 2004, I walked into that classroom for the first time and took a seat. The first 45 minutes were used by Janet Lee to share information on ‘how’ to write a novel. Over the next eight weeks, she covered everything from character building, to plot development, to types of sentences, grammar, and punctuation. She emphasized how to use dialogue, action, and narrative to move a story along.
And she said something profound which has stuck with me: “If you can write a paragraph, you can write a novel.” A book is, she explained, just many, many paragraphs strung together.
During the second half of each week’s session, the would-be authors in the class were encouraged to share up to six pages of their work-in-progress for Janet Lee and their classmates to critique.
As I listened to – and followed along on the pages the readers provided – I had an epiphany: I could write just as well as anyone in that class!
I went home that afternoon and started to write a novel. It was a heady moment some six months – and 90,000 words – later when I typed the words “The End.” And then I started to write another one. And then another. Each one was a bit better than the previous one. Each time I embarked on a new novel, I learned more about what to do and what not to do.
And I found camaraderie among my classmates and a few others we collected along the way. We dubbed our group the “Anonymous Authors” and met weekly to share our musings and make suggestions on one another’s work.
I am truly thankful for their input and, especially, their friendship. Even when our in person meetings came to a crashing halt in March 2020, several of us activated or installed cameras on our computers and we learned to Zoom.
I am currently one of two ‘hold outs’ from our current Zoom crew who has not yet published a novel. But that doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned the idea. Of the seven novels I’ve written, I’m working my way through my editor’s suggestions and corrections on the first one I plan to publish. The particular book is actually the fourth one I’ve written and part of a four book series (Book four in the series is actually a complete rewrite of novel #1)
Editing and rewriting is just another piece of the process essential to the writer’s journey. And, with a bit of luck, on November 1, 2023, I’ll be celebrating National Author’s day having joined the ranks of published authors; who knows, maybe someone will be sending me a note to let me know they loved my book. And maybe I’ll be able to send them an autographed copy back.
A bunch of links:
Novels published by several of the Anonymous Authors who are or, have been, a part of our group:
Long Time Passing – Jessie Irene Fernandes https://smile.amazon.com/Long-Time-Passing-J-Fernandes/dp/1508665184/ref=sr_1_1?crid=R0T90ONNXEJ0&keywords=fernandes+long+time+passing&qid=1666984909&qu=eyJxc2MiOiIxLjUyIiwicXNhIjoiMC4wMCIsInFzcCI6IjAuMDAifQ%3D%3D&s=books&sprefix=fernandes+long+time+passing%2Cstripbooks%2C148&sr=1-1-catcorr (Irene has published several other novels also)
God’s Army – Ward Harris https://smile.amazon.com/Gods-Army-1096-Anno-Domini/dp/1502508508/ref=sr_1_1?crid=20R0CYGWY2THP&keywords=Ward+harris+God%27+Army&qid=1666985131&s=books&sprefix=ward+harris+god%27+army%2Cstripbooks%2C153&sr=1-1 (Ward has published a number of historial fiction novels)
The Girl with the Cinnamon Twist – Steve Dennis https://smile.amazon.com/Girl-Cinnamon-Twist-Stephen-Dennis/dp/0615887589/ref=sr_1_1?crid=BCSL2AGWWCH0&keywords=The+girl+with+cinnamon+twist&qid=1666985263&s=books&sprefix=the+girl+with+cinnamon+twist%2Cstripbooks%2C156&sr=1-1
Kandu – Joseph Julian https://www.amazon.com/Kandu-Joseph-F-Julian/dp/1495985415/ref=sr_1_2?crid=2PSUL5FUUWDO3&keywords=kandu&qid=1666988042&qu=eyJxc2MiOiIzLjUyIiwicXNhIjoiMy4wOSIsInFzcCI6IjIuMTcifQ%3D%3D&s=books&sprefix=kandu%2Cstripbooks%2C409&sr=1-2‘
If you love puns and word play, then you might enjoy these books from my high school friend, Ben Mayo. If you’d like to get his books email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
And a link to Janet Lee Carey’s website: https://janetleecarey.com/