I was sitting in my 6th grade daughter’s reading classroom during Open House. It was 7 pm, I was cranky because I hadn’t had time to eat a proper dinner, and I couldn’t focus on what we were being told. I let my eyes wander.
They fell on a chart the teacher had put on the whiteboard that day. Clearly, it was an outline for expository writing, nothing out of the ordinary from a reading teacher. But the way he had visualized it by drawing a mountain, with the action first rising, reaching the climax, and then falling again, got me so excited I almost jumped out of my seat. What I had there in front of my very eyes was nothing else but the profile view of Kilimanjaro’s Machame Route, which I trudged up so laboriously the first week of September 2012. I could practically see the toilet challenges, the sickness, and the other pitfalls, right where the teacher had thought it appropriate to remind his pupils to add a series of complications.
When the bell finally rang and we were allowed to leave, I went up to the teacher and asked for permission to take a picture of his chart. I was so pleased with making this connection that I started telling him about it, but – considering he was a reading teacher – he displayed a disappointing lack of interest. I’m not sure he would have given my book a good grade. But I didn’t care. I had the perfect diagram for this blog post.
A story is just like a mountain. See for yourself:
This, basically, is the synopsis for Kilimanjaro Diaries: Or, How I Spent a Week Dreaming of Toilets, Drinking Crappy Water, and Making Bad Jokes While Having the Time of My Life right there. Maybe I should put that on the back cover instead of the blurb.
By the way, making the story into a book is like climbing a mountain all over again, especially if you self-publish. But that’s a story for another day.