Yesterday, my girls had errands to run, so I had them drop me by the local thrift store. My book-hound nose always leads me to the bookshelves first. Lately, I've been drawn to how-to writing books. I was perusing the shelves when the spine title, "Writing Juvenile Stories and Novels" caught my eye. It was written by Phyllis A. Whitney. She wrote over 70 adult, young adult and children's books, mostly mysteries. The jacket was in poor condition. I knew by the color scheme and artwork on the jacket that the book was dated.
The copyright date was 1976. Holy smokes, I was five when she wrote it! I immediately brought the book to my heart, (don't ask me why, it just happened) and I knew it was meant to be. A small, round sticker announced the book was only .50! I thought for sure when I opened the 34 year-old spine, the book would fall apart and reek of musty garage. Much to my surprise, the spine was in excellent condition, and the pages lightly perfumed with cedar.
I took it straight home and read the inside jacket cover (again), the back, the introduction and was hooked. She wrote 34 years ago exactly what I need to hear today. A quote from Ms. Whitney on the requirements of writing:
"Perhaps the major requirement of a writer is a strong backbone and the kind of chin that can take it--not once, but again and again. If you pride yourself on your sensitivity, if you curl up and die when some brute expresses a low opinion of your brainchild, if you get your feelings hurt easily--well, I won't say you can't be a writer. But I certainly will say that you won't be a very good one until you take yourself in hand and toughen up. You can, you know."
I'm only on chapter 3 and it's already proved many times over to be a great tool for writers. I don't read the New York Times often, however, they have a great article about her from 2008. Here is the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/09/books/09whitney.html?_r=1
I was saddened to read that she'd passed away in 2008. Shame on me; I should have known that. She lived to be 104! The article states that in 1988, she received the Great Master Award for lifetime achievement from the Mystery Writers of America.
My find yesterday gives new meaning to the old saying: One man's trash is another man's treasure.