So I live in a small town near a big city, right? The same town I grew up in. If you want to see half the people you ever knew, all you have to do is stroll on down to the library at about 2:30 in the afternoon and walk around the new release and magazine section. On a recent visit I saw a couple of girlfriends, one of my parent’s friends, some kids I knew with their nannies, and, best of all, Mrs. Moore.
Mrs. Moore was my sixth grade teacher. She’s a little older now (like I’m not, right?), but I’d know her anywhere. She was sharp as a tack, Mrs. Moore, didn’t put up with crap, told it like it was, but was also really kind and had a great sense of humor.
We got to chatting and she’d heard all about my book and told me how proud she was, to which I could only reply, thank you. She asked if I remembered how she’d mark up my papers and make me write things over and over, and, you know, I had to admit I did. The thing is, I never minded it. I actually liked it.
That may have been one of the first clues that I was born to be a writer. Mrs. Moore was my first editor, and she taught me pretty much everything I needed to know about working in the world of New York publishing: try to hand your work in on time, don’t argue with people who are trying to make your work better, check your work for errors, and, most of all, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.
I’ve had lots of creative writing teachers, various professors and dissertation chairs, even more than one agent, but no one could ever beat Mrs. Moore. To this day, she’s the editorial voice in my head, putting squiggly red lines on the paper, circling misspelled words, urging me to make this section a little clearer. But it’s not a school-marmish, critical voice. Quite the opposite. It’s a voice full of affection, tipping toward laughter. Just like Mrs. Moore.
I would say that Mrs. Moore started out as my mentor (though I didn’t know that at the time, being only eleven) and ended up one of my heroes. I hope that one day my children have a teacher who’s as special to them. She’s retired now, but I’m so glad I still get to run into her in the library because in my heart, I’m still eleven, still writing magical things for the pure joy of it, and Mrs. Moore will forever be my teacher. Bon Vivant.