Monday, 11 April 2016

Tomorrow is the official publication date for my debut children’s novel. I started working on what became THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY in July, 2008. You can imagine how many beta readers, paid-for critiques, SCBWI retreats, critique group meetings, and hand-wringing sessions it took to get me from idea to published book.

In the back of the book, after the story is over but before the list of poetic forms and writing prompts, you’ll find the formal acknowledgments. I limited thank yous to people who beta read in the year before the book sold, otherwise the acknowledgments could have doubled as a phone book

But now that launch day is almost here, there is one big “Thank you!” I wish I had included.

Today’s post is devoted to my parents.

frank 2

They are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this summer!

My parents did not give me feedback on my book. I wouldn’t let them read it until the ARCs arrived.

I never cried on their shoulders about how hard it was when agents sent form rejects or said a verse novel wasn’t for them.

I didn’t do these things because I’m an adult, and proud of it, but sometimes that means I forget to thank my parents.

So, here is a great big acknowledgment just for you, Mom and Dad.

Thank you, Dad, for reciting “The Song of Hiawatha” and “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” to us when we were little. You are such a great performer that I can still picture “the shining Big-Sea-Water” and hear the hoof beats of Paul Revere’s horse pounding through the night. You taught me to love the music of poetry.


A handmade birthday card, painted by my mother.

Thank you, Mom, for sharing your love of William Wordsworth’s “The Daffodils,” and for being an artist. Your tool is the paintbrush, mine is words. I pursued my dream of being a writer, encouraged by your belief that we should all follow our bliss.


When I left home for NYU’s Dramatic Writing Program, my parents gave me a special gift. I went hunting for it today. It’s dusty and some of the lines have faded. The butterfly in the corner is in tattered pieces. But I’ve saved the list poem they wrote for me all those years ago.

This week, when I publish my fourth book — the first from a major publishing house — I want to thank my parents for their faith in me.


My parents wrote this list poem nearly 30 years ago.

Why do I, Laura Elizabeth Dickson, write?

by Pauline and Franklyn Dickson

I write to heighten my own awareness of life.
I write to lure and enchant and console others.
I write to serenade my lover.

I write to be able to transcend my life, to reach beyond it.
I write to teach myself to speak with others, to record the journey into the labyrinth.
I write to expand my world when I feel strangled, or constricted, or lonely.

I write so that I can create a world in which I can live.
I write to integrate the different women inside me.
I write to solidify my inner convictions.
I write to balance two worlds — earth and imagination.
I write that I can communicate by way of the emotions, imagery, and myth.
I write in order to liberate other women, to inspire other women.
I write in order to grow and to reach my potential as a human being.
My writing is an inner journey, a quest for a center, a gift to the world.

–With Love from Mom and Anais Nin

I write to earn a living, to be financially independent.
I write to please myself, my parents, my family and friends.
I write to communicate!
I write to express myself, what I see, feel, and experience.
I write because I care!
I write to celebrate myself.

–Love, Dad

6 responses to “Acknowledgments: Special Edition”

  1. Linda Baie says:

    Nothing more lovely than words from Mom and Dad! O happy day before, Laura!

  2. patsy hall says:

    It shows what wonderful parents you have, Laura! Their words were beautifully-written……….and you have inherited artful talent and perseverance to enable you to achieve wonderful things in your successful career. This is so exciting! Congratulations to you!

  3. Janet F. says:

    This is just wonderful. Your story, your parents, their poem for you. How special, enchanting really. Is your mother a published writer? They must be so proud of you. I am particularly interested in (no surprise for those who know my work with kids and reciting poetry) to hear about your parents and their reciting. Both Paul Revere and The Daffodils (I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud) are two poems I taught my students. I got my love of Wordsworth from my mother who knew that poem. It was the age when reciting was part of school in a regular way. I wonder how much it inspired your love of writing. It makes me even more determined to write my book to share about reciting. That said, I can’t wait to read your book and so many heartfelt congratulations on all your hard work and success. I know I am going to love it.

  4. O. My. Gosh!
    I’m in love with your Parents.
    This is so Sweet & Nourishing.
    The rose artwork is stunning.

    This makes me feel closer to my dear departed folks, who have similar attributes.

    Appreciations for your sharing their lovely poem &
    their shaping/sharing you with your World.

  5. What a touching post. I’m thankful to them for raising such a lovely human. And a heckuva writer. SHOVAN POWER!

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Laura Shovan

Laura Shovan is the author of the award-winning middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Her second book, Takedown, is a Junior Library Guild and PJ Our Way selection. Look for A Place at the Table, co-written with Saadia Faruqi, in 2020. Laura is a poet-in-the-schools Maryland.

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