A Cherished Book

A Cherished Book

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reader's Choice 20th Anniversary Edition

A Cherished Book

Motivation is when your dreams put on work clothes.

~Author Unknown

A few days before Christmas in 2000, a friend and fellow teacher stood before me waving a gift bag. “I’ve listened to you talk about developing stories and finding the right words and I admire your ceaseless persistence even in the face of rejection. I hope this gift helps in some way.” She patted my back and handed me the bag.

“Thank you,” I said, wondering how a small, red and white striped bag could contain enough magic to empower my writing career. White tissue paper rustled as I plunged a hand inside and wrapped my fingers around a book. “You can never go wrong with a book,” I said, smiling at her while pulling it from the bag. “Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul,” I read aloud. It even sounded inspirational. In awe, I ran my hand over the names of the authors listed on the cover as if I could feel their hearts beating. “I know almost every author listed,” I said, hugging the book to my chest. “I can’t wait to get home and read this.”

The school day flew by and, when the last student walked out the door, I tucked the new book inside my briefcase along with the papers I needed to grade.

At home, I put chicken and potatoes in the oven to bake. Then I walked and fed the dogs, graded papers, and ate dinner with my husband. At last, I turned on the dishwasher and settled down with my new Chicken Soup for the Soul book. The encouraging stories by famous authors made me laugh and cry. I felt surrounded by kindred spirits who gave me hope. Halfway through the book I forced myself to shut off the bedside lamp. Snippets of stories flooded my mind before I drifted off to sleep.

The next night I finished the book and dreamed of being a successful writer.

I kept the book near my computer and often reread stories when I needed a lift. The day finally arrived when I could write full-time. But like all new circumstances, it brought with it a different problem — time management. Phone calls, TV shows, and radio programs interrupted my writing time. I cleaned, I baked, I gardened, I canned, I sewed, but I wrote less than when I worked full-time.

One evening, after an exhausting day of mowing the lawn, I picked up Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul, and found “The Flop Artist Writer” by Patricia Lorenz. I didn’t know Patricia Lorenz, but after reading her story I knew she understood the pitfalls of poor time management and definitely had something to teach me. I made notes from her story and modified her schedule to fit my own needs.

I started writing and submitting stories to various publications and I began selling stories. My story, “Chocolate Bunnies,” was published in Chicken Soup for the Chocolate Lover’s Soul, in 2007. When the book arrived, I noticed that Patricia Lorenz was the editor. But, by now, enough time had passed that I didn’t make the connection that she was the author of “The Flop Artist Writer.”

In 2011, I went to a Missouri writing conference and attended a workshop presented by Patricia Lorenz. I mentioned to her that she had edited my “Chocolate Bunnies” story. We spent a good bit of the two-day conference getting acquainted. I knew she was a talented writer and found her to be an excellent instructor and humorous speaker. Before we left the conference, we agreed to keep in touch. She even offered to critique some of my work — an invaluable gift to any writer.

Two weeks after the writing conference, I sat before my computer, composing a short story. The last paragraph was giving me trouble, so I stopped and fixed a cup of tea. I reached for my copy of Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul, and read the subtitle on the cover: Stories to Open the Heart and Rekindle the Spirit of Writers. I needed some “rekindling” right then. I turned to the contents and ran my finger down the list of story titles. I nearly choked on my tea when I discovered Patricia Lorenz was the author of “The Flop Artist Writer.”

Because of Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul, Patricia Lorenz mentored me from afar years before I had the pleasure of meeting her in person. No other book has given me that kind of personal connection. It holds a place of honor by my computer and its dog-eared pages are a testament to how much I value and cherish Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul.

~Linda Kaullen Perkins

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