My Heroes Are 30 Minutes Down the Road

Hey People! Long time no chat? Ha ha, I know, it’s only been like an hour. But I got a really important topic. I was going to mention it in the last blog, but this one deserves its own entry. I hope that at least some of them are reading this blog. This one goes out to a class room of 15 7th graders that attend East Avenue Middle School.

To the 7th graders: You guys are awesome. I was so excited when my mom told me you guys wanted to write me letters. I literally woke up each day hoping that it would be the day your letters would arrive. Then the one day I had let it slip my mind, POW! It was there waiting for me on my kitchen counter. I never thought manila envelopes could be so exciting. But then again, there are many things I have yet to think of. =]

So, overall, you guys made my jaw drop. No, you guys’ letters made my jaw fall of my skull, run across the floor, and jump out my second story window. As one of you guys said in your letter, my first thought was W-O-W.  I have so much to tell each of you, but since this is just a blog, I’ll try to keep it brief [stress on the try].

I’m so glad I could make that big of an impact on you guys. You know, you guys call me your ‘inspirer’, but in all reality, you are the ones inspiring me. One of you talked about how you used to be very shy, but that my visit helped you feel more confident about your writing. To you, I just want to say that I’m so happy that something I did could instill that strong of a reaction. Wow, what a compliment. I hope that you continue on with this advancement. It’s a beautiful thing when you realize that there should be no shame in things that you have your heart in. Oliver Panter[another author I met in NYC] taught me that much.

Also, you guys mentioned that you all really liked the writing activity. That’s great. I’m so glad you all were so willing to embrace my experiment. You probably didn’t realize this, but when I told you all to write something, anything, you guys were all writing up a storm within half a minute. It was a great feeling to think you guys had so much to say. My mom wasn’t kidding when she said that it looked like you all had a lot to write about. 

One of you mentioned how you thought the exercise taught you how to write with a voice. That’s great. I hope you can keep developing it by writing more. I was also glad to hear that the boys enjoyed my performance just as much as you girls did. That’s fantabulous [Yes, I know that’s not a real word, but if Shakespeare made up his own words, why can’t I?]. I’m glad my potential isn’t just limited to girls, ladies, and women. Also, one of you said that you’d be reading my blogs regularly, so you also inspired me to get back on here and type my heart out. Thank you, I’ve been meaning to do that.

Also, one of you students said that my essay was “a breath of fresh air”. Besides the fact that this is a mega-compliment, what descriptive detail! That has a lot more meaning to it than just saying it was a good reading. I’m glad I could bring some new genres into mind for you. In fact, I was extremely glad that a few of you took my type of topic to heart. If it was possible, I would’ve liked to keep all your essays.

Many of you also mentioned that I inspired you to write your own essays and submit them to publishers. That’s awesome. I’m glad I could encourage some fellow colleagues to put the adult image of a teen to a freeze and show them we’re on our toes.

One thing I really enjoyed about reading your letters was that you all had a different approach to saying your own personal thank you. Some were formal; others were as though you were writing a letter to your best friend. I really liked how one of you totally went against proper letter-heading rules and instead of putting the date in the right-hand corner, you wrote it in your letter. How lively! It was so neat and interesting. You may or may not have meant to do it, but it still looked really cool. Another thing I was really appreciative of was how you were honest. Some of you admitted that you thought I was just going to be another buy-my-book charade. Others told me that they were really excited for me to come. One even told me how she thought it was really embarrassing when your essays were read in front of the class. Honesty is priceless. I love it.

I also like how some of you wrote specifically about your feelings about the event and how others wrote about how the class overall felt about it afterward. It’s fun for me to hear other people’s thoughts on things like this. One person went full out with decorations. Thank you. Even if you actual letter was short, a picture is worth a thousand words. You definitely made up for it.

A few of you also thanked my mom. She won’t admit it, but she’s so thrilled to be a part of the thanks. I appreciate how some of you told me which essays you wrote. I loved them all, and it’s nice to be able to put a story with a name. Thank you.

One of you in particular mentioned that sometimes you are brave in doing daring things, but that sometimes you aren’t. Believe me, I’m the same way. I think everybody is to a point, but I’m definitely one of the cases where it occurs regularly. =] I want to tell you to not be afraid to try something new like having people know what you wrote. Sometimes, you have to rebel against yourself and your own internal boundaries you’ve made to realize the truth in some things. The first time is never easy. In fact, it’s one of the hardest things to do. But after the first time, it gets easier. It’s not going to be one of those things where it’s super hard the first time and then it’s over with. No, it’s going to keep being hard. But eventually, you’ll teach yourself [consciously or unconsciously] to become numb to it. Eventually, it’ll become like breathing: sometimes you don’t really know you’re doing it, sometimes you have to focus on it, and sometimes it hurts so much you want to just let it stop. But believe me, it’s going to be very uncomfortable if you let yourself stop at that point. I hope that helps.

Another letter was almost more inspiring to me than my essay was. It was short, sweet, and packed with heart and meaning. Thank you so much. You don’t realize how much that helped me. It was so helpful.

One of the letters mentioned talked about how I exploded their expectations. In respect for her and her thoughts, I won’t mention what her expectations were here, but hopefully you’ll know I’m talking to you. You also mentioned that you appreciated me coming into your class because you realize how “repetitive [going] to schools you don’t know and talking to strange faces” is.

I was also excited to hear from one of the students that their favorite part was getting up in front of the class and improving their essay by using the million-question strategy that the beloved Amy taught me. I’m glad that all worked out well.

I’m stoked to hear that since the activity, you have all decided to continue writing short stories, mini essays that pop into your head, and your everyday thoughts. I’m glad that I was able to inspire writing in a room of my peers. You know, I was in my English classroom when I was inspired to write. But that’s another story. This blog is all you guys.

A few of you had some questions for me. As for sequels to RED, you’ll have to contact the editor Amy Goldwasser for confirmation, but I know she has talked seriously about many of them. One person asked me “Did you go to New York?” Yes, indeed I did. It was awesome. I talk about it a bit in my first blog. As for any other questions you guys had that either I skipped or you forgot to ask, feel free to email me with them. If I have a lot of them, I might post a Q&A blog. That'd be interesting, right?

Anyways, thank you so much for being naturally awesome and willing to show your natural awesomeness to me.


~Dani Cox



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