One of my favorite things about my book is one of the most subtle. It's something that the vast majority of readers will likely not even notice. But it means a lot to me.
When I read a book, I always read the dedications and wonder about the human story behind the dedication. I wonder about what actions and emotional currents shaped those words. It's very much like an iceberg with just the smallest tip showing.
Now that I'm publishing a book, I realize how significant, how carefully considered and chosen they are. A book is an intensely personal thing for an author, a sort of incarnation of the spirit and mind and heart--at least for me--and the dedication is meant to be a gift. That may sound trite or cliche, but it's deeply felt and honestly true--again, at least in my case.
I thought a lot about to whom I wanted to dedicate my book. One choice was obvious. My wife, Meredith. For almost eighteen years now, she has been my best friend and closest companion. I love her more than I can say. However, Meredith is a deeply private person and does not like being the subject of blogs. So, I'll leave it at that and talk about the other dedication.
The Harding Academy Class of 2010. My beloved 8th graders are graduating and leaving. I will miss them keenly and am not too proud to admit I get choked up when I think about it.
Their association with my book began when they were in sixth grade. I was refining and rewriting the manuscript while watching this group out at recess. They started asking me about what I was working on. Pretty soon they started wanting to be in the book. None of the characters are based on them, but several of their names showed up in the names of minor characters.
But there's a lot more. This group of students is unique and I love them deeply. On multiple occasions, they have been the way that God touched my heart when I needed it. This year, they have helped me immensely. I began the year at a bleak and low point, emotionally and professionally. My confidence as a teacher had ebbed to almost nothing. I was deeply hurt and frustrated with some developments the prior year. In fact, but for the economy, I would have tried to find another job.
I may write about this in more detail another time. For now, suffice it to say that these kids took a battered and bruised heart and soul and filled it with joy. They helped me remember why I wanted to teach and what the rewards are. Their exuberance has energized me and their cheerful, optimistic, unabashed affection has recharged my spirit. It's like teaching a grade full of Labrador puppies.
The last song we sang at our last concert was "We Go Together" from Grease. That's a nice end-of-the-year song for graduating students. That's part of what the dedication refers to--lyrics from that song. I thought about writing "Rama-lama-lama-kading-a-da-ding-a-dong" but that seemed unwieldy.
The "LBS" refers to their class motto, which they established at the beginning of the year. "Look back and smile"--a reminder they came up with to make the most of their 8th grade year and make the choices that would yield memories that would make them smile.
I think they've accomplished that goal. I hope so. They've been successful in theatre and music and sports and student government and everything else. They've also been incredibly supportive of and kind to each other. There is one thing I know for sure, though. Whatever their memories may be, I will always look and smile when I think of them. And that is great gift they have given me.
Thank you, Class of 2010! I love you guys.
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