My writing life began when I sat down with a legal pad and a pencil at my desk facing the Delaware River ten months after my son was born and wrote the words: gifted, or just your average weirdo? I had just moved into a charming house on the water after ten years of living in NYC apartments. New mother, new house. But, restless with ideas shooting around in my brain. It had come to me the year before (when I was teaching at Hunter College Elem. School–NYC’s public school for gifted children) that I wanted to write a book about a gifted kid with identity problems. Here was my opportunity, squeezed in between breast feeding, diaper changing, and walking my baby in the park.
Six months later I had what I thought was a book, just sixty-seven pages. One of the first editors I sent it to was Dick Jackson (Judy Bloom’s editor) at Bradbury Press. In speaking of the main character he said, “I read Michael’s story with much sympathy for his plight.” In a follow up phone call, he added, “Your novella needs to be at least 110-120 pages.”
Oh, I can do that, I thought.
But, of course, nothing comes that easy.
Another editor suggested I attend Margaret Gable’s writing class at The New School in NYC. I put my Gifted, or Just Your Average Weirdo? book aside for the time being and began In-Between Summer at Old Black Point, a story for middle grades about a direct honest eleven year old tomboy confronted with feminine peer expectations. Her rock turns out to be her blind, deaf great-grandfather.
Each week with a new chapter typed up, I took the train into the city to attend Gable’s class. There were some wonderful writers in the group like Patricia Reilly Giff. And each week my chapter would come back with pages of single-spaced typed criticism on thin blue paper–concrete things to think about. Margaret Gable trained me to sit down and revise.
Many years, three more books, two children and a teaching career later……
Jewels that Speak is the memoir I wrote over the last three years since I retired from teaching. It addresses the most compelling conflicts and puzzling parts of my life that, simply must be heard.
A jewel can mean more than the enjoyment of dazzling sparks of light refracted through colorful minerals when it is given to you by a beloved in life, or is bequeathed to you after death. It can represent the thrill of romance, the horror of betrayal, or simply sister-love.
The hidden personal meanings of jewels is woven through my chronicle highlighting my passage from little girl growing up amongst powerful family names like Tiffany and Freud to a woman/teacher/writer/wife/mother in a self-created life.
I am presently working on a short light piece of narrative non-fiction.