Monday, November 25, 2013

My Literary Hero and My Literal Hero

There are many authors I look up to. But the one who stands alone from all the others, who shines a little bit brighter than the rest, the one who changed my literary experience, is an author from my childhood.

Most don't know this but when I was a child, I struggled with reading. Books were very scary to me. They were homework or something that kept me from exploring the outdoors. Instead of reading, I made up stories in my mind and to me, my stories were always better than the ones I was forced to read.

I wish I could remember why I came home with a certain book one day, but I do remember being excited. It must have been because I was a tomboy and I liked animals and I was always looking for an adventure. This book was about a boy and his dogs and they lived on a farm like I did! All the other books I tried to read were supposed to be funny, but I'd never laugh, or they were all about girl stuff I was terrified of.

I still remember my parents letting me stay up late one warm night to finish my book. I think they were just excited to see me wrapped up in a story for once.

I can still feel my tears as they ran down my cheeks and I can still feel the book in my hands as I held it tight to my body. I can still smell it and feel its pages. And in my heart, I can still feel the joy of finally connecting with a story, with an author. I read this book over and over and over.

Now that I'm an author, I try to write in the way that Wilson Rawls taught me. From him I learned emotion in a story is important, characters need to be solid, likeable and real, and your setting has to take you to a place you can see and know.

Owning an original signed copy of his book, 'Where the Red Fern Grows' has been a dream of mine for years. Wilson Rawls saw things the way I did when I was a little girl. Even though I never meet him, he understood me.

This weekend one of my older brothers paid our family a visit. In our younger years, Craig was always that big brother who watched over me, who asked where I was going and what I was up to. In my teens, he even cleaned one of his guns in front a date. I always smiled when someone came up to me and said, 'are you Craig's little sister?' I always answered with a proud, “Yes!” He was a dream come true when it came to big brothers. I treasure each memory I make with him.

You can only imagine how he touched my heart when he handed me the one book that changed my literary experience! It being signed by the one author I admire more than all others! Craig's giving heart allowed a dream I never imagine coming true to happen.

My heart is full. My eyes are still wet with tears. My soul still leaps for I now have a piece of history from a man I owe so much of my writing to. I know Wilson Rawls is happy I have one of his treasures.

I'm grateful for heroes in my life and I'm grateful for one I can call my big brother!

Thank you, Craig!