Photo By: Mel Fechter
The manuscript by this title is in the final stages now, needing illustrations and a cover before being submitted for publication.
The pages of this book hold many stories from my own life, woven into the written conversation between two fictional pen pals who begin as strangers but part as special friends. Each of the girls is at a major crossroad facing the choices that will determine the direction of her life’s journey, and together they help each other forge a path to their dreams.
The time frame for these letters is set in 1965-66 because that was my own college era, so I felt comfortable to alternately step into the shoes of these two fictional girls. The pace of corresponding by mail in the 1960’s was quite leisurely, allowing days or weeks to receive, digest and answer a letter.
By contrast, the technology of today encourages instantaneous messages and replies, which must be brief and to the point. Thus today’s use of social media does not lend itself to the exploration of deeper subjects, such as the role that decisions play in our lives. For that reason I found it almost impossible to give wise counsel about choices to a teenager in my own family. To solve this exasperating dilemma I chose to voice my thoughts in the simple format of my own youth. It offers many stories to illustrate the far reaching impact of our decisions on all our lives both now and in the future.
Hello Myrmidon is a beautifully woven tale which takes the reader on a journey of inner contemplation. Writing letters opens up the dialogue between two people who may have never shared their inner most thoughts if they had met in person. This book is reflective and joyful, and there are many things to learn from sharing it with your family. Susan Day, Australia
A friend also sent me these comments shortly after she began reading it:
“I can relate to the part where you, your mother and grandmother are driving on the old logging roads. My first husband, our two children and I were in Corvallis visiting family when we ended up on a logging road. We were headed for the coast and ‘got lost’ on one of those roads from 3p.m. until 11 p.m. We finally came out way north of where we wanted to be along hwy 101. I can remember how RELIEVED we all felt to finally see the ocean. Then we had to drive south until we got to Waldport, where my parents lived. That was a memory forever trip for sure”.
“I loved the question and answer sequence. When I was in high school I was in a Spanish class, which I much enjoyed and worked hard in to keep a high grade. I caught a ‘really cute boy’ cheating by looking at my test paper and was very upset with frustration. Why?
Because he was part of the popular crowd at school that I felt like ‘they’ (that group of students) acted better than people like me. (Just run of the mill lower class person because I was just a sophomore and he was a senior.) From then on I covered my paper so he couldn’t see it”.
“As I read the descriptions for Halloween costumes, I am reminded of how I dressed in 1963 as a senior in Albany, OR. Pink, light purple, or purple sweater, purple pleated reversible knee length skirt, and white tennis shoes. Never wore slacks or jeans. Ugh.”
“One of the most intense reasons I like your story and the questions is that they ‘inspire’ me to reflect on my own past decisions….and at 72, I can ‘see more clearly’ how decisions influenced me and the directions I made in my life”. G.M.
THIS IS THE RESPONSE THAT I WISH FOR EVERYONE WHO READS HELLO MYRMIDON, WHETHER THEY ARE OLDER FOLKS LOOKING BACK ON THEIR CHOICES, OR YOUNG PEOPLE LOOKING FOR THE PATH TO THEIR DREAMS. I WILL HAVE SUCCEEDED IF THEY CAN NOW SEE MORE CLEARLY THE POWER THAT DECISIONS HAVE HAD OR WILL HAVE IN THEIR LIVES.
The younger girl starts out with a letter expressing her disdain for a teacher that accused her of cheating, and asking the older girl for advice. Here is an excerpt from that letter:
“Well, Hello There, Myrmidon!
What a neat name, I love it. I looked it up at the library. It is derived from a group of ancient Greek warriors, known for their skill in battle and their loyalty to their leaders. Today the word has come to refer to a loyal follower who will do whatever his mentor suggests. It is a perfect choice because that’s what I want to be to you.
I hope you are feeling better. I am sorry to hear about your illness. It must make it even worse to be kept apart from everybody, all alone day after day, without being able to visit with your friends and parents and all. I know I would be really lonely without being able to be with my friends at school, let alone being sick too.
Right now I am not lonely, I am just mad at a witch of a teacher that has ruined my life. I can’t understand how she could do that to me. It was an essay test for English class, we are practicing creative writing this week. The teacher told us to choose our own subject, and then spend the hour writing a story about it. I couldn’t think of anything right away, so I looked around, and everyone else was writing feverishly. But I was blank.
As I my eyes went around the room I noticed that I had a clear view of my neighbor’s paper. So I briefly glanced at it in hopes of getting an idea to write about. I certainly didn’t cheat, I would never do that. I saw what my neighbor was writing about and I suddenly got an idea for my paper. I immediately began writing. Unthinkingly I glanced at her paper a few more times, and noticed some more tidbits that helped me write mine.”
The letter goes on later to say……
“As the teacher read our papers, she graded my neighbor’s paper first, and then she read mine. They were right together of course because we were sitting next to each other. I thought mine was completely different, but somehow she noticed similarities in our stories and gave me a failing grade. How could she do this to me!!! I didn’t do anything wrong, and yet with that one grade she has changed my life forever! The term witch does not begin to describe how bad I feel about her.
What am I going to do? I had my whole future all mapped out, and now my life is over before I even graduate from high school. How can I face my friends, after all the bragging I have done about this fabulous life I have planned? All my life I have dreamed of going to UCLA, and now it is gone. How can I tell my parents? Oh Myrmidon, what can I do? I wish I could trade places with you. To be in a room all by myself with nobody to harass me sounds very good right now. Sincerely, “A”
Myrmidon begins her reply with a story of a similar experience from her own life, so that “A” can see that Myrmidon understands her plight. She continues by offering a series of questions and answers to help “A” realize her mistake. Finally Myrmidon gently suggests a solution to the problem.
This is the type of exchange that the 2 girls have throughout the book, helping each other over the bumps in the road that are common among girls in their age groups.