When I taught Elementary school, I used to have my classes bring in Monarch caterpillars they would find on milkweed plants near their homes. Sometimes we would have 6 or 8 caterpillars brought in at the same time. We watched them feed on milkweed leaves and grow big and fat in a discarded fish tank with a screen lid on it.
How we enjoyed watching the caterpillars climb laboriously up the sides of the fish tank, attach themselves to the screen at the top and hang upside down until the seemingly miraculous moment when they would shed their skin and turn into a chrysalis. After about a week, they would break out of that chrysalis, with much struggle, and stretch their new wings out to dry. If anywhere along the way, we tried to help the caterpillars get to to the top or help the butterflies get out of their chrysalis, they would die. They had to go through the struggle. It made them stronger in the end.
As a writer, I felt many times like I was that caterpillar, struggling to get my words on paper and edit, edit, edit. Then patiently wait for the rejection letters that never gave me any helpful advice. And finally, after an excruciating time of waiting, I find out that someone thought my book was worthy to be published! Amazing!
At last I am that butterfly who has emerged and has to stretch her wings. I am doing things to promote my book that are foreign to this elementary teacher. It is always hard for me to promote myself. I have had to become a public speaker, which turns out to be very fun and rewarding. I have sat long hours in Author Fairs with 20 other authors where all of us only sold a few books. I have had book signings at more coffee shops than I can remember and I don’t even like coffee.
Now I have been to two schools to do an all day Author Visit and it has been wonderful. It was not because I signed books, but because I was back in the classroom doing what I loved to do for so many years; teach. I try to teach at least two test standards that I know elementary students will encounter; poetry and figurative language. I use excerpts from my books and talk about becoming an author. It has been great! I am still stretching my wings and hopefully one of these days, I am going to fly.
(Mary is available for Elementary school visits for the 2017-2018 school year. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for information and a price schedule.)