I’ve been working on a Masters degree in publishing my narrative nonfiction coming of age memoir. Not a university degree. It’s more of curriculum vitae outlining experiences catalogued to produce a successful book. These are many.
I’ve worked with editors and Beta readers. I’ve watched webinar classes produced by Writer’s Digest, attended conferences and workshops, and given presentations to civic and educational groups. I have had many teachers.
One of them was Dr. Kelly Crager from the Vietnam Oral History Project at Texas Tech. During my interview in May 2010, Dr. Crager asked me a profound question: “Who did I talk to in Vietnam?”
Who was I close to who listened to my fears and answered my questions?
When I was twelve-years old, I had many fears and questions. I answered, “No one.”
“No one?” he asked.
“No one,” I replied.
“You didn’t talk with your parents, teachers, or friends?”
“No,” I said, “no one wanted to hear what I had to say.” Most twelve-year-old girls didn’t question U.S. policy. Twelve-year-old girls want to giggle about boys, do their hair, and go shopping. I wasn’t like those girls, and I had no one to talk with about my fears and concerns.”
That was a depressing realization. Dr. Kelly waited patiently for me to continue.
Suddenly everything clicked in place.
“I talked to Nam,” I said. “He was the 35-year-old Vietnamese servant who ran our household. I talked with Nam as he worked in the kitchen, dusted the living room, or swept the driveway and carport.”
“What did you talk about?”
“I shared my thoughts and adventures with him. I listened to his stories about Vietnamese history during WWII and the collapse of the French colony of Indochina.
I had many more teachers in the pursuit of this Masters Degree in publishing, but he was my first. Without him, I doubt I would have been able to tell my story.