Sunday, March 16, 2014

Published by Anna - The Greatest Honor!

Where do I begin?  Isn't that always the question?
Even when the message you need to share is engrained in your heart, mind, and spirit, the obstacle still remains.  Can I get it on the page like I see it in my head?
When it all comes out, it's still not perfect.  You read and analyze and over-analyze, until you don't like the concept anymore, or until you finally put it away and nothing becomes of it.
But once in a while your thoughts come out the way you'd like them to, and once in a while, you find a friend - someone like Anna - who sees more in yourself than you do.
About a year ago, I attended a chapter retreat for the ANWA Writer's Club.  I asked a few friends for critiques and advice on my writing.  With a tip from the wise (Cindy Williams), I was led to Anna's room.  She paused what she was doing, and in an instant focused on me like I was the most important thing in the world.  In that special moment, I found myself tutored for an hour by the poetry MASTER!  We discussed meter, rhythm, rhyme, how to read poems like prose, how to NOT sound "contrived", and also how to work through the problems with her computer's software.  In our time together that day, Anna asked me permission to publish the poem I was working on, "In My Baby's Eyes", in her poetry book called "Just a Woman - Romping through Poetry with Anna Laurene Arnett".  I immediately felt a lump catch in my throat!  I was shocked, humbled, honored, and a little nervous.  Before I submitted the final draft, I wanted to run my poem past a few more trusted friends and family members - like my Aunt Linda, the famous columnist for the East Valley Tribune, and my friend Cindy Williams, and my parents - so I didn't hand it over right away.
And then we went swimming - the woman with the most darling swimming suit of all was almost 89 years young; I left the retreat hoping to be more like her someday.
Fast forward.  It's now 2014, and Anna has completed "Just a Woman".  It's a compilation of many of Anna's original poems - chalked full of the divinity of womanhood and motherhood, the joys, the struggles, and the laughter.  In it, she shares who she is, explains how to read and write poetry, and also shares poems of authors who have written messages that resonate with her principles, with who she is and how she feels.  On Friday night, her son hosted an Ice Cream Social to kick off the celebration of this great adventure.  I saw the digital flier and knew I couldn't miss this.  Mitch and I took the kids and our neighbor Devin to the enchanting house in Tempe.  Truth be told, it's been a while since I've corresponded with Anna, I wasn't 100% sure if she actually included my poem in her final manuscripts.  On the drive over, Mitchell asked me if I was going to ask Anna, "So, did I make the cut?"  Well, I didn't even have to ask!
Upon my arrival, Anna GAVE me my very own signed copy of her poetry book with a personally crocheted bookmark because I'm "one of her authors" (you can find me on page 152, to be exact). 

I tried to tell her what it means to me to be included in this, but for someone who loves words, I just couldn't seem to find any that really fit.

After the signing, there was a poetry reading.  When it comes to poetry reading, Anna is the queen!  She is vivacious, funny, enchanting, and completely at ease on the stage.  She is confident, thoughtful, endearing, and kind.  She is always teaching, and sharing, and loving - even as she performs. 

Anna invited me to participate in my very first poetry reading that night.  I asked Anna for a pointer beforehand.  In her grace and mercy, she announced before her own personal renditions that "the hardest poems to recite are the ones you've written yourself!"  I believe that's true, because I still have thoughts swirling in my head of all the changes I've made or thought of making in my writing.  But Anna didn't fool anyone.  She's been reciting poems for 85 years, and I believe she just held her poetry book in her hands FOR ME to feel more comfortable, because that's who she is.  She is so classy and so sweet!  As you can see by the pictures, my book was OPEN as I recited, and hers was CLOSED.  Even so, it was an adventure, a privilege, and an honor that Anna would care enough to include me and that she would invite me to share my poem on her special night. 
In an effort to further explain - this special evening with Anna means MORE to me than any other academic or literary achievement I have ever had and more to me than any others I might achieve someday.  To be included by Anna and published by Punkin Roller Publishing simply takes the cake.  It's more monumental to me than graduating college with honors, and means more to me than if my other writings were to ever be picked up or published by ANY other company (no matter how large) at some future date. 
I was so humbled to be a part of this night with Anna and it means SO MUCH to me!  I will always love and adore this amazing lady! 

Bridget, Anna, Debra Jo, Miles
Bridget is the darling 11 year old author, who was only 10 at the time she wrote the poem, "Animals" that Anna also published in "Just a Woman".  I was so excited to hear Bridget recite her poem and to have her sign my book, too.  I wanted my baby Miles be in this picture, because he was the one that inspired me to write "In My Baby's Eyes". 

I happen to have children's books in the works that have been inspired mainly by my other boys, Tyson and Emmett - hopefully sooner than later, I will also make those dreams become a reality.  Thanks to Anna, I have more confidence that I really will be able to make those dreams come true!

Now I'm back to working on my writing.  Where do I begin?  That's always the question.