When I was in the 7th grade, a teacher wrote the following words on the blackboard: “Hitch Your Wagon to a Star.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
That was almost half a century ago, and I was living in a little rural town in the cotton-growing part of the Bootheel of Southeast Missouri. Before that day, I had never heard of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and I had not thought much about life outside of my little community. In many ways, that one teacher changed the course of my life. Her name was Miss King, and she challenged me to be more than I might have been had I never met her. God Bless Great Teachers.
Miss King was an outstanding English teacher and because of her tutelage, I never had to worry about grammar after she taught me in 7th grade. That, in itself, was one of the greatest gifts that I ever received, but because I lived in a very small town, Miss King also taught me English literature in the 10th grade. That is when she opened my eyes to William Blake and to his Songs of Innocence and Experience.
As soon as I saw William Blake’s writing that he himself had illustrated, I knew that I myself wanted to write and to illustrate my own words. At least once a month, I talk about William Blake in my blogs, and I discuss how Blake challenged mankind to have feelings and to have an emotional depth. William Blake was the subject of my first master’s thesis, and his work has fueled my own vision. I owe a great deal to William Blake, but I owe even more to Miss King, who introduced me to William Blake. It was because of Miss King that when I was 12 years old, I Hitched my own Wagon to a Star.
Miss King also introduced me to Robert Frost and through Miss King and Robert Frost, I began to realize that there was a path that led out of the cotton patches of my childhood. Thank goodness, that passage goes both ways. Although I have left my childhood home, I return to it daily through my writing. I have not turned my back on who I was, but because of who I once was and because of great teachers like Miss King, I learned to reach for other worlds. I learned to set goals, and I began walking toward those goals.
When I was in the 7th grade, I heard what Miss King was saying. I actually “got” what she was trying to tell my class. She was challenging us to aim for greatness in our lives. She was opening a door for us and challenging us to begin the journey that would become the courses of our lives. I will be the first to admit that I have not yet reached the moon of my own goals. In fact, it has taken me quite some time to decide exactly which path that I wanted to follow. But because very early in life, I aimed for the moon, my life has indeed been lighted by the stars. And that has made all the difference to me.
Several months ago, I wrote a simple little poem. Ostensibly, the poem was a recording of the way that I felt when I initially awoke one morning. Within a few hours of having written the verse, however, I realized that through a few, simple words, I had actually captured something about the way that I have journeyed through my entire life.
On Silver Sheets, I Sail
by Jacki Kellum
Just before I open my eyes
I float along the misty skies.
I reach, I feel the soft, white hair
and fairy wings that flutter there.
I listen, I hear the slumber song,
The angel band that plays along
My dreams are in my pillow-pail.
On silver sheets, I sail.
©Jacki Kellum December 16, 2016
For at least the past 50 years, I have Sailed on Silver sheets, and because I have allowed myself to do that, I have filled my pockets with stardust, and I have had a plethora of glorious experiences, as well as some terrible ones. But while I was bouncing from star to star, I didn’t really accomplish much that is tangible. Although it has taken a while for me to reach this point, I am finally at the place that I am ready to begin reaching for some concrete goals.
For almost a year, I have been blogging voraciously. Even at the time that I had begun to blog, I knew that I was in the first phase of a process that is called Blogging to Book. As it turns out, I have several WordPress blogs, however, and I have been blogging to several books. Yesterday, I launched a new site that is a combination WordPress blog and website, and I have entered phase 2 of my goal to Blog to Books . I encourage everyone to read a post about my Blog to Book Experience Here.
The purpose of my blog site Blog to Memoir is to provide a home where I’ll record my experiences as I begin to hone my blogs and to turn them into books. Unlike a place where I’ll continue to “Sail on Silver Sheets,” the Blog to Memoir site is the place that you will watch me, as I begin to turn pixie dust into reality.
In the first post on Blog to Memoir, I outline the steps that I now realize should be everyone’s course, as they begin blogging to book. I wish that a year ago, I knew the things that I share in that post. I have made some business mistakes and I have wasted some time. The steps that I outline in this post will help prevent you from making some of those same mistakes. Here.
Among other things on Blog to Memoir, I tell you that in order to Blog to Book, you need to turn yourself AND each of your book ideas into Brands and you need to establish a Writer’s Platform:
What Is A Writer’s Platform?
- One of the first and most important things that a writer can do is to turn himself into a brand. Blogging helps with this, and if the writer tags his blogging posts and images correctly, it will help faster and more efficiently. Each writer needs a web home where he can be found, and his web home needs to reflect the image that he wishes to portray of himself or herself.My personal web home is http://www.jackikellum.com. Here
- Second, the writer needs to turn each of his books into brands. On the same Blog to Memoir post, I suggested that before you begin to blog your book, you need to title it and to buy a domain that will be associated with each book that you are blogging to book. As soon as you begin to blog your book, you need to mention the book’s domain name and your own name each time that you post. At times, the only way to do that is to mention these things in the tags, but this will also help. Following are some of the books that I officially began blogging this week:
- If you are considering self-publishing, you may want to create your own publishing house and begin to Brand that, too. Nothing seems more amateur to me than to say that you [as an individual] published your own book. I have launched my own publishing company, too.
To help publicize your upcoming books or to increase interest in yourself and your book, you might host a free blogging event. Here is the Free Event that I am hosting, and I hope that all of you will find the time to participate in that event Mine Your Memories: Find Your VoiceHere
As you can see, I have finally managed to step out of my starry-eyed self long enough to establish some authentic goals, and I have created several combination WordPress and Blog sites to help me move toward those goals. If you look closely at those blog sites, however, you will see that most of them are business-related or they are places where I am teaching and offering tutorials. Contrary to places where I am “Sailing on Silver Sheets,” my new blog sites will become the virtual bricks and mortar of my quest to Blog to Book. This does not mean, however, that I have quit creating my more artistic stuff. What you will see on my site Blog to Memoir is the very unartistic process that I realize is necessary for me to get the artistic part of myself published and “out there.”
©Jacki Kellum August 13, 2016