Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Corbett, OR Grade School Visit

Today I visited with all the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th graders at the Corbett, OR Grade School. I was so honored to be asked to visit their school. My heart absolutely MELTED when I saw so many kids holding my book. I was truly touched when one boy told me he loved King Torin and thought I should write 51 books about him! Another boy told me that he thought Torin should be nicer to Agnes because  it seemed like Torin liked Agnes... Very insightful kid!

I've spent so long writing The Ancient Realm and there were so many moments when I wondered why I am doing this... no one is ever going to read this book, much less like it. But those 30 minutes I spent with the Corbett, OR Grade School, made all the hard work I put into this book 100% worth it. Thank you Corbett, OR Grade School for making my dream come true by reading my book, telling me you loved it, and groaning when I told you I hadn't completed book 2 yet.

Below is the speech I gave (please excuse poor grammar - the best part about giving a speech is the written form doesn't have to be grammatically correct;):

Ever since I was a little girl I dreamed of going to the Olympics. In 5th grade we had a career day and everyone dressed up as what they wanted to be in the future. I dressed up as an Olympic athlete.   
Starting in my freshman year in high school, I spent over ten years training in the sport of Whitewater Slalom Kayaking for a chance to compete in the Olympic Games. For most of my career I stayed ranked 2 in the US with multiple top ten finishes in the World.
I really really wish that I could sit up here and tell you how amazing it was to make the Olympic Team.  I wish I could tell you how unbelievable it was to walk into a huge stadium with all the best athletes in the world.  I wish I had a shinny Olympic Gold Medal that I could show you.  
But, I never won a gold medal and I never made the Olympic Team.  In Whitewater Slalom only one female athlete per country gets to race in the Olympics.  In 2000 I placed second at Olympic Trials – one spot away from the team.  Four years later in 2004 I placed second again at the Olympic Trials and again missed the Olympic Team by one spot.   
I retired from racing in 2004 having never fulfilled my childhood dream of making the Olympic Team. Every four years I am a little sad watching the summer Olympics on TV knowing I will never get to compete in such a special event.  BUT, I am living PROOF that it is far better to have dared, to have tried, to have gone after my dream and to have failed than to have never tried at all. At the end of the day I realized I that even though I was heart broken I didn’t make the Olympic Team, I was still incredibly happy and very thankful for the opportunity to train for ten years, travel around the world and racing against the best people in my sport.  
I’m currently trying to pursue a new dream – the dream of becoming a successful author. As you heard earlier, I recently published a The Ancient Realm an action and adventure book written for your age. But it is still yet to be determined if I am a good writer, it’s yet to be determined if The Ancient Realm will become a successful book – I only published it four months ago.   
It’s funny because this dream of trying to become a successful author is almost more of an impossible dream than of my first dream of trying to make the Olympic Team. 
When I was your age I was reading and writing on a 1st grade level and the teachers didn’t know why. Finally right before I entered my 6th grade year I was tested for learning disabilities and the results came back that I was dyslexic.  
I spent the rest of my middle and high school years working my tail off trying to catch up. And I did catch up – I went on to college to graduate amongst the top of my class with a 4.0 GPA. 
But even though I had done well in college, I’m still scared of reading and writing – dyslexics to do not think of words as their friends. But I love dreaming up stories, I love imagining characters, and I love the mission of my book – the mission to show readers how incredibly precious the Natural World is.  And I’m here today having a great time trying to become a successful author.
I might fail again – just like I didn’t make the Olympic Team – I might never become a successful author. But I know from experience, from my past failures, that happiness isn’t defined by our end results – its defined by all the time we spend trying to achieve our dreams, our goals 
If the day comes when I have realized I will never become a successful author I will be a little sad, but I will be far happier having tried than having not tried and spent years wondering “What if – What if I could have become a successful author."   
If there is one thing I hope you take home from listening to me today it’s this:None of us should ever leave our dreams on a shelf for fear of failure.  We should all GO for them – no matter how impossible they seem.  None of us have any idea of what we are capable of until we try. And I promise – life really is about the journey not the destination – not the final result.  SO go for it and see what your capable of! 
To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle  

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