In order to graduate high school, I was told I had to read the entire collection of Mark Twain’s works on on my family’s bookshelf.
I only made it through about 75% of the collection, but by then my parents’ expectations shifted to a more realistic level and they let it count. That and the fact I only hit 75wpm with 80% accuracy in typing.
I swear my parents weren’t perfectionists when it came to academics, but they did want to make sure we had a well-rounded exposure to information, thoughts, opinions, and worldviews. By the fourth kid, they found a good balance.
Of course, if they hadn’t had such ridiculous high school graduation requirements for me, I wouldn’t have been introduced to Puddin’ Head Wilson, the most underrated of Twain’s novels.
It’s a short, yet brilliant, piece of work which weaves together comedy, mystery, and ethical/moral discussions. The above quote is just one of many great ones you’ll find in its pages.
But, it was actually the author note at the end that solidified my affection for the book. It was the first time I was to read about the craft of writing in the words of an author. What I read there was a reflection of my own writing process. I thought, “He and I are a lot alike” and for my 16-year-old self, it was the boost in confidence I needed.
Moral of the story: live life intentionally well and write author notes to inspire future generations.