AND YOU CAN LOVE ME a story for everyone who loves someone with ASD
It didn’t start out to be a children’s book. Ethan’s story began in an intensive writing workshop. The prompts we were given always seemed to manifest in poems about my grandson. I’ve never understood how some random writing prompt can engage the subconscious mind to arrive at aha! moments that have been smoldering lovingly away in a poet’s soul. But, many of my heartfelt poems have arrived in writing workshops prompted simply by someone saying write about the last lie you told, write your own obituary, or open a book to any page and point to a sentence and copy that sentence and keep writing.
I don’t remember the exact prompts that led me to write enough poems about my grandson that prompted my teacher to say that I had the beginnings of a book about my grandson.
Those poems sat idly around, not smoldering, but catching dust for several years. They only got attention when, because I was applying for a grant and I didn’t have enough poems to fulfill the application requirements, I figured the poems about my grandson could be applicable (except, maybe they were the reason I didn’t get the grant).
Again, the poems sat idly around near my trash basket, until, again, I decided to apply for a grant. Except this time the grant was for prose writers. I thought, I’m 70 years old, I can do this, no I have to do this because it’s not something I’ve done during my fifty year writing career, apply for grants, believing my writing was good enough to win me some money so maybe I could get a new, not used, though my $129 computer was my best thrift store buy ever, computer that doesn’t, like my now, I don’t know how old, used computer, freeze up all the time.
By this I mean, I could turn my poems into prose. I actually liked the idea. I could say more in a prose narrative, than in poetry, couldn’t I? And, again, I was writing, not about my grandson, but actually a coming of age-now I’m 70- story, but couldn’t a grandma include stories about being a grandma and about her eleven- year- old son who is non verbal and autistic.
Again, the judges weren’t loving my submission. But, this time I thought who needs $25,000. I just need to write my books, like I’ve always written my books, with the support of a publisher who likes my books. And, with the influence of so many Minnesota writers, several who had recently published children’s books, I thought, Ethan, my grandson, needs his own book. His story deserves more than to fill a space in my book about turning 70 (a book I am still writing and my publisher is still waiting for).
I believe in signs that point me in the right direction. This time the sign was that the writer/professor that taught the class where I first began to write about my grandson (a class I participated in with students I, myself, have taught), well, that professor was retired (and so was I), but she continues to teach one day workshops in a community setting. She just happened to be teaching a workshop about writing picture books.
I reluctantly paid the enrollment fee, but knowing as a career writer I could tax deduct the fee, and on a Saturday morning I drove across town and reluctantly shared what I had so far accomplished by turning poems about my grandson into prose, and that prose back to one lengthy poem, revised several times, that I thought might be worthy as a picture book.
Let’s just say I made a grown man cry, and my teacher proud. What happened next?
Read about what happened next in my next blog post.
But, for readers who are new, know that I post as randomly as I write poems and essays, so thanks for paying attention when Word Press sends an announcement that I’ve actually written something on my Love Imagined blog site. Also, follow me on Goodreads, Sherry Quan Lee.
Shout out to my amazing mentor, teacher, and former boss at Metro State University Alison McGhee, writer of award winning books for children, young adults, and adults. https://alisonmcghee.com/
Sherry Quan Lee
August 4, 2019