Lynda’s Lessons

Lynda’s overarching topic in her blog post on Monday is Worries. Boy, can I relate. (Just ask my kids. I once called the police because I lost the nine-year-old, who was staking out a table for us in a Chucky Cheese, while we traipsed after the six-year-old and her birthday party friends; she hadn’t answered the page over the loudspeaker because she didn’t want to lose the table.) Last week, I fretted three nights in a row trying to figure out how to design, make, and carry an 8’ by 4’ poster on the plane with me from Boston to DC for a teacher’s convention. Tasks that most people can do in their sleep I lose sleep over.

In addition to Worries (as if that’s not enough!), Lynda wove in other, deeper themes that also speak to us writers:

  • how success, ironically, can undermine us, especially when we realize how much more we now have to lose;
  • how we’ve changed since we were children, not necessarily for the better;
  • how “the very things that make you feel so different as a kid can become your greatest gifts as an adult;” and
  • how ACTION dispels the Worries.

At a school visit recently, a student asked me if I would have protested segregation as a child, the way the protagonists of my book did. I had to confess that I was a goody-goody as a kid and probably would not have; I was too timid. I neglected to add that, in college and later, I did protest. So I became prouder of the 28-year-old me than of the 8-year-old that I had been. Lynda, does it count if I call on the 30-something in me rather than the single-digit me?

Lynda says that one of the reasons she’s so happy to be a published author is that she has “the opportunity to get out and talk to kids about…how it does get better and about making the choice to build a happy life no matter what hand you’re dealt.” Perhaps if I had had the chance to hear her when I was a kid, I would have learned earlier to figure out what I believe in and to stand up for it.

One of the reasons she’s right–that it does get better and that we can choose to build happy lives, regardless–is that, as adults, we have more autonomy, more authority than we did as kids. Although we often write about spunky kids who take charge, who save themselves and others, it it is the rare child, especially in these cosseted times, who can actually do that. Invigorating kids through both literature about such characters and through real-life examples like Lynda herself is both a blessing and a service.

I wish for Lynda so much success that, if either (1) her spunky eight-year-old self perversely went into hiding again, or (2) her action-figure self inexplicably went into a slump, she’d be awash in Worries. But, fortunately, neither of these is going to happen. So, Lynda, charge out there and collect all those great awards, not only for ONE FOR THE MURPHYS but also for its successors, which, aptly, will be hugely successful. As will the kids who read your books and hear your story. You might bolster more than a few adults while you’re at it.




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6 responses to “Lynda’s Lessons

  1. Lynda Mullaly Hunt

    Well, Cynthia. I’m not rendered speechless easily–you’ve accomplished what some would say is the impossible! You’ve done a wonderful job expanding upon this topic of “worrying” which I think is pervasive among creative-types, but is something we don’t often admit to–I think because successful people feel they should always be viewed as confident. Thank you so very much for your follow-up and kind words. Coming from you, they mean a great deal to me. (Well, I guess I wasn’t too speechless! 😉


  2. J. Anderson Coats

    “Although we often write about spunky kids who take charge, who save themselves and others, it it is the rare child, especially in these cosseted times, who can actually do that.”

    This is one of the nice things about historical fiction. I get to put kids through the wringer and it’s totally organic.


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