Thursday, September 30, 2010

And the dedication goes to...

Growing up, only one person encouraged me to be a writer and that's my tenth and twelfth grade English teacher, Mrs. Markovich, who was Japanese and born in the internment camp in Fresno, CA. She would work creative writing into our essays in any way she could. One red ink comment on an essay said, "Either quit talking to Erin or loose the nose ring. You're pushing it." The comment on the next essay said, "You should pursue a career in creative writing." I was 15, so at the time I paid more attention to the bossy comments. For the record, I neither took out the nose ring nor stopped talking to Erin. Not then. Not now.

It amazes me that someone told me what I should do at such a young age. I tried to fit myself into other boxes and didn't really internalize my "destiny" until I was 20, but those words are part of what got me to accepting my novel-writing fate. I can still picture her loopy handwriting in the margin of my essay about the difference between my mom's antique porcelain cows and the new funky clay ones, about the story each cow in the collection had to tell.

The next person to heavily influence my decision to be a novelist, and not just a journaler (because I've always Always kept journals on my own), is my husband. He takes the starving out of artist. He oversees all of my plot decisions. Sometimes he overrides me and sometimes I override him. Together, we keep my books from falling to their death off of cloud 9.

In Mrs. Markovich's class during senior year, I wrote an essay about my (at the time) fatherless state of being. I worked at Macy's and helped a man pick out clothes for his fifteen year old daughter. I watched on with something like envy, bittersweet and wistful. I wasn't the only one. All the worker girls were looking on in awe. It wasn't the shopping that got us. It was the sweetness. How comfortable they were together. I wrote about that moment and how boys didn't like me as much as other girls because my father wasn't around. I was a seed that got stepped on and I needed a man to water me, to make me grow into a beautiful flower that others would notice. I was a very odd sixteen year old, I know.

From all this, stems what I once thought would be the dedication in my first book:

To Mrs. Markovich, for planting the seed
and to Gabriel, the one who watered me.

As you can see, it means a lot and it makes perfect sense. But now I'm not so sure. Shouldn't the first dedication go to your mom? Shouldn't everything go to your mom? She has encouraged me to be whatever I wanted to be, but always jokingly pushed me to be a journalist and be on TV.

Now I have a slew of people who encourage me.

All this is to say is that I'm not sure what my first dedication would be. It is obviously not something to dwell on. Don't worry folks, I actually do write. But its the little things that make up a big dream, and I know I'm not the only unpubbed writer to wonder what that mostly blank page will say.

Have you given thought to your first dedication? If you're already pubbed, was the dedication important to you or something to make light of? Who did you dedicate to and how did you choose that person?

P.S. No matter who I dedicate my books to, rest assured that I will track down Mrs. Markovich and send her a signed copy of each one.

P.P.S. I blogged about a teacher on Monday. Maybe its Teacher Appreciation Week in some other universe and this is the first sign in what will be the sci fi novel of my life that I am actually an alien.


  1. I need to dedicate one to my sister who has always encouraged me. She's next on my list. She gets the next dedication. No teacher ever told me I should write, but one in college praised my story to the high heavens so maybe that counts.

  2. What an agonizing question. Yes, it matters. Oh now there you go that’s all I’m going to think about for the rest of the night.

  3. I really enjoyed reading this. I've thought about my dedications. They matter. My first book is going to be dedicated to my friend Amy. She was the one who answered the phone and listened to me go on and on about the book for 3 years (it's part of a series and I drug out the planning - I finally wrote the book last year, it took me 2 months). My second book will go to my grandmother who died last year. The book is about ghosts and we always talked about ghosts. In fact, the grandmother in my book is based on my grandmother. My mom and family will go on the acknowledgements page.

  4. The first book I wrote was dedicated to my mother. Not because she particularly encouraged me to write. In fact, she generally disapproved of much of my writing. But because she was always there for me and always made sure I was fed and clothed and able to work hard.

  5. oh goodie! glad I'm not the only one that wonders... cheers to all the sisters, friends, mothers, husbands, teachers and grandmothers that make this crazy thing called writing possible :)

  6. Hey! Not sure about the FIRST. Depends on which book (I write picture books). But one to my mom, two to my son, one to two girls I know, my dad, my husband, lots and lots! They all have SOMETHING to do with the book. I'm going to dedicate one to a famous archeologist. Friends, children, etc. So much fun to think about dedications!