Hi, Friends! I'm thrilled to join the Seriously Write team. Thanks to Annette Irby for her gracious invitation. I've been writing since I was born (well...almost) and it's an honor to have the opportunity to share with each of YOU!
Words of Wisdom
By Mary Manners
“If you’re going to do something, then do it right.”
Those words, spoken by my father, came to me the winter of my thirteenth year as I delivered newspapers along my route on the streets of Elmwood Park, a suburb of Chicago. It was the winter of 1976 and we were in the clutch of a terrific, trademark Chicago blizzard. The streets were buried in three-foot drifts and my fingers ached with a bone-freezing chill through two pairs of wool gloves as I tossed rolled newspapers from the passenger window of our beat-up Chevy station wagon while my dad navigated the icy terrain. He usually didn’t chauffer me; I rode the six-mile route on my bike with papers nestled neatly into a burlap sack woven across the handlebars. But, today he’d decided the snow was a little more than my bike could handle, hence the unsolicited lesson in proper newspaper delivery. I really didn’t care what his thoughts were at the time; all I wanted was to get home to the warmth of our living room. Yet, with each paper that missed its mark Dad made me exit the car, retrieve the paper, and walk it up to the customer’s cleared front porch.
I was a bit—okay, more than a bit—miffed at him that day, as it took several hours to finish the route and I was sure I’d permanently lost use of a couple of fingers and toes in the process. But, as the following days passed, Dad’s words stayed with me. Little did I understand at the time that they would become a cornerstone of my work ethic over the decades to come, guiding me from an insecure teenager to an award-winning teacher as well as a published author.
The summer of that same year, I stopped by the Elmwood Park Public Library each day after I finished my paper route. Long, sweltering days meant hours and hours of time to devour every book in the air-conditioned young-adult section, and I was determined to read them all. By then I loved to write (I actually believe I was born loving it, but that summer definitely took my passion to a new level) and I promised the gray-haired, pinch-faced librarian that one day she would stock my books on the library shelves. She just pushed her horn-rimmed glasses up the bridge of her nose and handed me another stack of dog-eared paperbacks.
One August afternoon a thunderstorm blew in that was so severe it set off tornado sirens and sent people to the shelter of any building they could find. I had my nose buried in a book, transported to that otherworld of a secret garden, and remained completely oblivious to the fact that I was about to make a visit to the mysterious Land of Oz until the kind librarian dragged me to the stock room, hid me beneath a shelf, and handed me a copy of The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton—I assume to calm my rudely-awakened fears. By the time storm clouds dispersed and the angry, yawning sky dumped its fill of rain I had fallen in love with Pony Boy and the fact that someone, somewhere, knew first hand that it was okay to be different. It was the first time that I believed in my soul, and with one-hundred percent confidence, that I would one day become a published author and share my books, my thoughts and feelings, with other people.
In the months and years to come, I wrote and read everything I could devour, and then wrote and wrote some more. I had wonderful teachers along the way—Miss Moreale and Miss Vestuto, who took the time to lift me up, to ask about my writing, to talk with me as if both my dreams and I truly mattered. I loved those ladies, and to this day tears blur my vision as I remember them with such fondness. I truly believe that I would not have become who I am without their selfless and boundless encouragement.
Published, yes. Wiser...certainly. On fire to pay it forward to the children in my community? You bet your pencil and notepad!
Words of wisdom...pass them on.
Mary Manners is an award-winning romance writer who lives in the beautiful foothills of East Tennessee with her husband Tim and the cherished cats they've rescued from local animal shelters...Lucky and Gus.
Learn more about Mary Manners at her website: www.MaryMannersRomance.com.