Thursday, October 12, 2017

Did I Make the List? by Linda Williams Jackson


I hope that third grade was not as horrible for anyone reading this post as it was for me. When I was in third grade, there was one girl who was considered “the boss.” I’m not sure how she came into this position, but the position was respected to the point that this one girl (one girl!) made a list every morning and the rest of the girls in our class adhered to it.

The title of the list was: “Who I’m Playing with Today.”

The list was passed around for EVERY girl to check for her name. And if your name wasn’t on that list, then P—, “the boss,” wasn’t playing with you (or even acknowledging your existence) that day.
 

Obviously, P— was the most popular girl in class, and she had a group of favorites who ALWAYS made the list. I, unfortunately, was not one of her favorites. As a matter of fact, I rarely made the list. Sadly, one day rather than an inclusion list, P— passed around an exclusion list. It read:

Who I’m Playing with Today:

Everybody except Linda Williams

Ouch! That stung! When the list got passed around, I noticed the look of shock on all the girls’ faces. They knew that I was not to be spoken to or even acknowledged that day. But there were two girls, Tammy and Yolanda, who were bold enough to ignore the list. And they both came to my desk and said, “We’ll play with you, Linda.”

I was happy to at least have two real friends, but it hurt, nonetheless, to be the sole exclusion from “The List” and to be the one girl who almost NEVER made “The List.”

What the heck am I trying to say with all this?

Before I became a published author, I didn’t pay much attention to all the “Best of” lists. But once my little book made a list, I started to notice these lists more. I started to click every time a link to a new list appeared. When I didn’t see my book listed, I would begin to feel a tad bit sad. That’s when memories of third grade came flooding back to me. Who are these people making the lists? Um, mostly our peers—peers who, at some point, have been deemed the experts in defining the “Best of” lists.

Sure, these lists have value, and it’s an honor for the author when his/her book makes one. But there are SO MANY GREAT BOOKS published each year that will never make the “Best of” lists. Remember Tammy and Yolanda, the two girls who played with me on Exclusion Day? They saw value in me even if P— didn’t. And those books that never make any “Best of” lists? Guess what VERY important list they made? A publisher’s list! Yep, that’s right. An editor saw value in that author’s words and said, “Hey, we’d like to publish this.” After which, they invested their own time and money into turning that author’s words into a bound book (or e-book) for others to read. Now, isn’t that the most wonderful of all lists? And if you are a published author who is reading this, please remember that your book did indeed make “The List.” It made your publisher’s list. It made your fans’ lists. So let’s all be like Tammy and Yolanda. Let’s try our darnedest to ignore the lists and celebrate the joy of writing and reading!

Can I get an amen?

5 comments:

  1. Amen, Linda! I am not published yet, but I can definitely relate to feeling excluded. We all have value and our words have value even when no one cares to acknowledge it.

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  2. I dreamed of making it onto lists, but I suppose lists are like books - I'm going to have to write my own.

    You're on my list, Linda.

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  3. So sorry you were excluded in your youth. And so glad you are a writer, and can bring joy to many now.

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  4. I love this, Linda (and want to hug your younger self).

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Thanks for adding to the mayhem!