The Outsiders was a bestseller when I was a little girl.
Before the book became a movie, S.E. Hinton made her way to the Ardmore Public Library where my class walked the few blocks from Franklin Elementary to meet her. It wasn’t a long talk but the spirit of inspiration was there.
She was a young lady with short, curly brown hair. I sat to her left and couldn’t hear her very well because she was soft spoken, but I do remember her sitting in a chair with her legs crossed at the ankles. She had on a long skirt with slip on shoes.
We students sat on the floor in a horseshoe fashion surrounding her. At the time, I didn’t think much of who she was, being only a kid. I just knew she wrote a book and that was really cool to me.
Franklin Elementary wasn’t a well-to-do school, nor were its students. Mostly kids who seldom saw a few dollar bills all year long attended Franklin. That was my case, anyway.
I wish I could remember the year she came to the library. I think I was in 3rd or 4th grade which would have been somewhere around 1973 or 1974. The book had been published in 1967, when she was 18, so when she visited, she was quite young.
I can’t imagine the happiness she felt being so young and enjoying the success she did. Being in my fifties, I struggle to sell one book here and there, and when even ONE sells, I’m over the top with temporary elation.
It’s been all these years since that experience seeing her, yet I haven’t forgotten it.
She doesn’t know the little side trip to Ardmore, Ok, had made a profound impact on me. One hour, one day, to one little insignificant girl over 45 years ago.
I am grateful to the teacher who marched us energetic kids to the Ardmore Public Library to meet S.E. Hinton, though I can’t specifically remember who it was. I want to say it was my third grade teacher, but not entirely sure.
I can count on three fingers the episodes in my life that were as significant as this. For sure two.
Being a writer, I hope I can make an impact on some little soul somewhere; all creators want to inspire-otherwise why bother?
Someday, when a book of mine becomes a movie, a child I know may say, “Hey, I know her!” And maybe it will be said with a smile.
I may be dreaming but it’s hopeful.
Most people around a dreamer are the watchers. You’re the average Joe or Jane who does something they aren’t really interested in, so there’s not a lot of support, just watching.
I believe that is why writers, artists, or musicians have to hire agents to help out. We all need someone who has the wherewithal to push in favor of who you are as an artist.
It’s a hard road if you aren’t exceptional. Which most people aren’t, but hard work and some luck will help a person out, if they haven’t put on the shoes of defeat. Withering away is pretty common. It’s harder to stay in the game.
The one thing I know, I may be average but I am the only person who does my thing my way. Same with YOU. Your personality makes what you do different. The way you talk. The way you build something. The way you tell a joke or write a story.
Your experiences, emotions, ideas all lend a distinctive perspective in the work.
Every one of my artist friends who shows up at my house every two weeks sketches the same thing, but sketches differently. They are all extremely unique, but that’s the beauty of their individuality and their unique abilities.
It’s magical. Mystical. Wondrous.
So, some advice to my fellow sufferers out there-don’t look at what you do from the outside in. I tend to do this. Nothing you do matters to ‘them’ as much as it does to you.
You have to let the outsiders go. Wish them well and row, row, row your boat to your own destination. But just make sure your destination is inspiring, clean, and entertaining in a good way.
I think S.E. Hinton would agree.