Last week my grandmother passed away (at 90 years old). Although I did not have a close personal relationship with her, she greatly influenced my life in a special way. I must have been nine or ten years old when Grandma Wendorff first introduced me to The Writer’s Market. She noticed my passion for writing and took me seriously enough to teach me how to use and translate editing symbols, and taught me how to write a query letter. By age twelve I was on my way to writing my first novel-length book. It was 104 pages typed, using my dad’s electric typewriter (we didn’t have a computer). At age thirteen, I sent my book out to publishers, received several rejection letters (the first one was very encouraging, and the last one was a postcard with my name written in the blank). Grandma told me never to be discouraged by rejections. She was the first to tell me it is all part of the writer’s life.
I am still on my path of seeking publication of my work, and have moved forward to self publishing some of my whimsical booklets as downloads. I also see this blog as a form of self-publication. Grandma self-published her own book, “How to Make Cornhusk Dolls,” and she had a couple novels she also had in the works, seeking publication. She was also involved in writing cookbooks and had many articles published. She was a professional writer and editor. A good mentor for me to look up to.
I am in the process of rewriting the book I wrote when I was twelve (the story of my childhood move from Canada to the States), and I shared a snippet from one of the chapters at Grandma’s memorial service. When this book ever gets published, I’ll be dedicating it to her. Here is a fragment from what I read at her service, in honor of her support for my writing passion and dreams:
Grandma was a writer, and encouraged my interest in writing as well. Every visit, she brought me to her little writing room packed with file cabinets and introduced me to her typewriter. She handed me a stack of scrap paper and instructed me to type away to my heart’s content. I loved Grandma’s old typewriter. It was a trick to snap the metal alphabet hard enough to stamp the inky tape hard against the page. There were times I got carried away, hitting the keys with such force, the letter “O” stamped holes right through the paper.
My favorite part was finishing a typed line, hearing that “ding” to announce I reached the margin. Then I’d flick that big silver lever to turn the page up a notch and fling the rolled page back to the beginning of the next line. It made the act of writing an event. And how glorious it felt to pull the page out and see my own words in professional type.
Thank you, Grandma, for recognizing our mutual passion, and for taking me seriously as a writer at such an early age.
You were one of my first DREAM SUPPORTERS.