My name is not really McCookie. That is a nickname one of my rather saucy first graders gave me last year. It was so cute, and he was so dear, that I (perhaps unwisely) allowed it. Now it lives on among the children from that class, and I admit I get a sweet zing of pleasure when I hear, “Hi, Ms. McCookie!”
So maybe it will be my pen-name, when I realize my hopes and dreams as a writer for children! You know that phrase ‘hopes and dreams.’ We ask our children to identify theirs every year. I am now asking myself, what are my hopes and dreams as a writer.
In fact, this month I became a published writer for the first time. I had a child with cancer in my class, and I urged her mother and our school nurse to co-write an article with me about how we managed that year, how we made it work, for that sweet girl coming back to school while still ill and in treatment. After 2 ½ years in the works, our article was published just this March in the National Association of School Nurses Journal (link here, and feel free to share with anyone who could use this information: http://nas.sagepub.com/content/30/2/119.) I learned two things (at least) from that experience. Getting published takes persistence. And, the message is more important than any “glory” to the authors.
I now see writing as a means, not an end. That article came because we had information that might help others. What other hopes will lead me to write? I have a one-year old grandson and I hope to re-awaken my sense of humor and joy as I see the world through his eyes- remember what children think and feel and would like to read. Maybe I will work on ‘Jonah and Cormac- Adventures of Two Elephant Friends’ Who knows? Look for it on your bookshelves but not too soon.
And I want to write essays on how parents can instill science learning by teaching their child to attend to the natural world, try a few simple experiments, and build knowledge from close observations- of the moon, spider webs, seed pods, and the big sky above us. I want it to include snippets of memoir that I have worked on during past years.
I used to say to myself, “I will write when I retire.” Or when I get a nice office space of my own. Or… (you fill in the blank.) Now I know that writers are people who write. I may never get published again, never read by more than family, friends and a few good school nurses! But I can write for myself, and write letters, poems and stories as gifts to people I love. Even post cards and sticky notes! My writing is “limbering up” (to borrow a phrase from one of you) as I practice every day this March. I gain from your comments as well. So thanks for all your encouragement, writing friends, with love from Ms. McCookie!