Friday, 8 April 2011

Dream Catching

                “Linda, do it! We need stories about different cultures, because we learn from each other!”  These inspiring words from Myrelene Ranville, Anishnabay author and friend, were exactly what I needed to propel me from dreaming about my story to actually writing it. It’s important to have dreams, but it’s crucial to build a foundation under them at the right time!
                In late fall 2004, Ms. Ranville visited our school and brought her children’s book, Tex to our students. After she read us her story, we sat down to enjoy a cup of coffee and listen to many other stories about how her book has taken her to many interesting places, including Europe!  That’s when I shared my dream of one day publishing a German children’s book.  Ms. Ranville got very excited and encouraged me to do it.  In the winter of that school year I started the first draft for my story.
                Writing has been one of my favourite activities for years. In addition to the joy of being creative with language and the feeling of fulfillment a completed piece of work brings, I find it incredibly relaxing.

                The writing process is long, so trying to rush it rarely  works, because drafting and revising require many hours of diligent labour. It was no different when I was writing my story, Lindas glücklicher Tag.  I had people who edited for me, which always meant revising yet again. One of the editors, Karli Suess, a former German language consultant, suggested I write all the dialogue in our language, Kärntnerdeutsch, a dialect originating in the province of Kärnten, Austria, which we fondly call ‘Hutterisch”. That in itself, was a learning experience, since our language is an oral tradition. However, with each revision the story got better, until I ultimately had a beautiful piece of work.              
                Finishing my story came at a very opportune time: Hutterian Brethern Book Centre was exploring the possibility of publishing books. I was asked if they could have my story, which my sister Sonia had begun to illustrate. I rejoiced in my good fortune at not having to search for a publisher!
                Lindas glücklicher Tag  was launched in August 2006, at the Hutterian Educators’ Conference in Portage la Prairie. This was an exciting historical event not only for me, but for all Hutterites: the first published children’s book written and illustrated by Hutterites! Finally, our children are able to open a book and identify with the people, the language and culture in the story!
                Since then, a number of English, German and even Hutterisch books are gracing our library shelves -- written for Hutterites, by Hutterites.
Today Lindas glücklicher Tag is enjoyed by children in many different Hutterite colonies and is also in some Manitoba libraries. I’m still dreaming of finding a market in German speaking countries. So far I’ve had no success, even after sending out many query letters.  One day...                                                    

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