September 9, 2008, 3:04 pm
My novel is here, it's here, it's really here! Sure, I feel like a kid, like the kid I once was in bagging red tights, eager to win the spelling bee in Ms. Terwilliger's first grade class. However, when I look in the mirror and hold Rain Song, uh, well.... I guess I did turn 47 on my last birthday.
At the back of Rain Song sits my acknowledgments page. I like how I've thanked a few folks, including the woman at the spa who gave me a pedicure years ago. She told me not to give up. I think we must have been discussing our dreams and goals. She wanted to be a manicurist on a cruise line; I yearned to hold my published novel in my hands. After my feet were all clean and my toenails shimmered with a glossy pink, the manicurist looked at me, right into my eyes. She told me that she felt my dream would come true. Somehow, she sensed it. I managed a smile. Now, three years later, I can't help but wonder if she ever made it to the great blue seas, providing nail care for a host of passengers that enjoy stuffing large bills into her tip jar.
I didn't acknowledge Ms. Terwilliger. She is most likely dead, she was over 100 years old when she taught me. But I should have. This teacher is the one who, like my current editor and agent, believed in me. She gave me a start in fiction. Sure, I was embarrassed, but who wouldn't be when reading a story about a birthday party in front of the third and fourth grade classes of our little international school in Kyoto, Japan? Yet, there was pride for me, too. My teacher, with her round face, and long yellow number two pencil behind her ear, was proud of me. She ushered our entire first grade class into the older kids' room, and announced that Alice had written a story, "so everyone sit up and listen."
Ms. Terwilliger, thank you.