One of my goals with my book was to reach out to young people. Years ago I got paired in a golf game with a school principal from Saltillo, Mississippi. It was chance meeting and we became instant friends. (He just happened to be a mandolin player) On a whim, I sent him a short story, and he shared it with a lady English teacher who gave it to her class to study.
In short order I became pen pals with the kids, and still keep up with some of them today. I recall one wrote, “I can’t believe a famous writer would write us little children in Saltillo, Mississippi and be interested in what we have to say.”
I was stunned by that. At the time, I had just signed with my Lit agent and “The Mandolin Case” was early in its development. I called him right away. “Hey brother, we gotta straighten this out. I’m not a famous writer.”
He said, “You are now.”
His point was this: Once you touch someone far away with your written words, someone you have never met, then you by definition are a famous writer. I realized I now had a responsibility. You have to be careful what you write, someone might read it one day. I went on to visit with them and plan to go back this winter.
Tomorrow I’m gonna be at West Henderson High School. I’ll be here to talk to the kids about writing, music, and medicine. Then we have a jam session with English teacher Cliff Searcy and his school bluegrass group. After that we’ll be at Tempo Music from 4:30 until 5:45, and then on to WHKP radio to be on Charles Hayes’ Grass Roots show around 6 pm.
If I don’t show ’em anything else I hope to let them realize that through faith, family, and art, both writing and music, there is self-realization. We can come to accept ourselves for what we are; flaws and all. Art can help us to understand our friends and even our enemies, and find tranquility in a complicated world.
If the esoteric approach is not successful, I’ll tell ’em if you play music you get more dates. They asked that I bring a picture of me when I was that age. My Dad brought one over to the office yesterday. Way back then I was a shy, skinny country boy, and guitar was just a way to meet girls. It worked too; that’s how I found my Marfar and that’s more than enough reason to be thankful I got into music. Two kids and a Gibson mandolin later, she injected grace and dignity into what would have been a rough go alone.
If y’all have any suggestions, old Doc will take all the help he can get. What you want to hear about if you were a kid?
Dr. Bmemorable gigs, Writing
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